, the media savvy Republican strategist for two Bushes and one Cheney, switches to mama bear mode in a series of letters intended as a legacy for her two preteen daughters. Her advice reflects on formative experiences--losing her mother at age 26, working in the White House, marrying a soul mate from another political planet (high profile Democrat James Carville
), and surviving Hurricane Isabel. Each letter's theme is reflected in her greeting. For example, "Dear hormone handmaidens" gives equal time to menses and menopause," Dear lovelies" focuses on how not to become a dieter or fashion victim and "Dear unfortunate carriers of the Matalin DNA," acknowledges anxiety (hers and theirs). Matalin is at her best when translating family or political lessons in her own terms including her mother's quiet faith, her brother Stevie's gallant response to his bicycle accident and the climate of loyalty in Bush's White House. Her love for her daughters is wonderfully ferocious and funny--full of mom sound bites. After promising not to spy or pry she warns: "But from a distance, I'll be keeping track of you like a rat on a cheeto."
Matalin's engaging and wise counsel alternates with advice flawed by her insistence on gender typecasting and the stale idea that "what defines us is ungettable by the other sex." This problem is magnified by the grating coarseness of her view of men. When Matalin tells her daughters, "Boys would screw a snake if it would lay still long enough," readers may wonder whether she intended these letters as keepsake for her daughters--or as a best seller for a wider audience. --Barbara Mackoff
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From Publishers Weekly
"Don't ever feel like you have to choose between Daddy and me or, more importantly take up any political opinion out of peer pressure or because it's trendy. Think for yourself
," writes outspoken Republican political strategist and media personality Matalin in one of a series of letters containing life lessons for her two young daughters. Daddy is the equally outspoken Democratic political strategist James Carville, whom Matalin married in 1993. Their daughters are now preteens, but Matalin's advice covers all stages in a woman's life. Each letter is centered on a theme, some more serious than others: marriage and childbirth; career and civic duty; mall shopping and bad hair days, among others. "The time and money you'll spend on your hair will exceed the GNP of Liechtenstein," she predicts. Carville's opinions are here, too-the letter about loyalty has his explanation on why he stuck with Bill Clinton in the wake of the Lewinsky affair. "[T]ell my girls that their daddy had a friend. And, his friend did a bad thing. And what you do when you have a friend is you forgive them. And that's what I did." Most of the advice is loving, humorous and generally open-ended. But Matalin draws the line at casual sex. She warns, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" echoing the advice her own mother gave her. This is not a parenting manual, nor does it contain any earth-shattering political or family revelations. But Matalin's engaging, sensible tone will appeal to many moms and daughters.
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