Jen Mann represents one of many bloggers, like Jen Lawson, turning their blog into a book, in this case, a no-holds-barred look at parenting in the suburbs. Her book also represents why I love libraries so much. In a bookstore, I never touch the parenting section unless a book shows up a gift list, this book grabbed my attention from the title alone. The blurb and its candour reminded me of the women I know in my life.
Mann’s book chronicles her life from meeting her Chinese-American husband ‘Ebenezer’ in the chatrooms during the 90’s to moving back to Missouri from New York. Mann and her husband run their real-estate business, along with raising their two children ‘Gomer’ and ‘Adolpha.’ (Note to self: Use pseudonyms rather than letters for my future blog posts.) For those believing petty rivalries disappeared after high school, Mann recommends not giving your head a shake but to take it out of your ass.
Underneath the parent associations and the school run, perfection and competition pepper passive-aggressive encounters between the SAHM (stay at home moms) and those working outside the homes, and sometimes within those groups as Mann, a woman working from home, attests in her essays. One of the humorous, and frankly mind-blowing pieces, describes a school run done in pyjamas, with Mann desperate to save herself from one-of-those moms in an area where women don Gucci glasses and perfect ensembles for something as simple as going to grocery store. (I would love to say it’s an American thing, but I don’t live far from an area I don’t doubt does it.)
The humour runs razor-sharp throughout the book, with Mann exploring her children’s personalities, especially Adolpha, her daughter, who may take after the author more than she realizes in her essays. The love for her children runs deep, with Mann determined to instill authenticity amid the facades built by parents. Busting open those facades makes this book worth the read as Mann chronicles the willful denial of one parent about her destructive daughter (she gives excellent apology gifts) to the abuse of prescription drugs to either calm nerves or focus on enormous to-lists. None of what happens in this book surprises me after the tales heard from my friends all over the map in Winnipeg.
Mann’s highly-readable style would make this the perfect gift for the mom, at home or at work, in softcover. I read my copy thanks to Overdrive, available through Winnipeg Public and other excellent public libraries. For those needing an audio fix, It’s available on Hoopla or in a CD set. For those without hubby and kids, this makes an excellent read for those who like their humour on the tart side and observational. I love a good read about how ridiculous humans can get, and this provided a supplement to the stories told by my friends. Imagine the books they can write.