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Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love Hardcover – April 15, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The latest of TV's Real Housewives of New York City to enter the publishing arena, Zarin wisely recruits her sister, radio host Wexler, and their mother, online columnist Kamen, to produce an opinionated guide to life from the point of view of three Jewish moms-the kind whose "stereotypical traits" ("domineering, interfering, tactless and loud") have resulted in strong families and successful careers. Insisting that "if a lesson is worth teaching once, it is worth teaching at least two thousand times," the trio use a conversational, collaborative approach to make each themed chapter (including dating, health and beauty, education, career, and, of course, parenting) stick, trading off charismatic group narration with first-person interjections and personal stories that expand upon traditional, time-tested advice: "We come from a long line of long marriages. ...We were taught it is normal to go through bad times in a marriage, even bad year." They also provide "ask yourself" questions to motivate further exploration, and a short chapter on "Superstitions and the Clichés that Matter." Honest, self-aware, and frequently funny, these women deliver a triple-strength dose of universal advice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Honest, self-aware, and frequently funny, these women deliver a triple-strength dose of universal advice."
-Publisher's Weekly

"A great book this Mother's Day"
-MSNBC's Morning Joe

"Filled with candid, humorous and loving advice and personal glimpses into their lives, this trio offers up some tips we should all heed and live by...This is a thoroughly enjoyable read and should be passed around to mothers, daughters, sister, nieces, aunts, girlfriends and all ladies who might enjoy reading and discovering that in the end we are all basically the same - with the same hopes and desires - and remember an old adage redefined here: 'Hell hath no fury like a [Jewish] mother scorned!' Bravo! to Kamen, Wexler and Zarin (and I don't mean the TV channel)."

"Reading Secrets of a Jewish Mother is like a sitting around the kitchen table with a pot of coffee and a chocolate bobka, listening to advice from old friends."
-Barbara Bietz, author of Like a Maccabee.

"[Jill Zarin's] sharing little pearls of wisdom, along with her mom, Gloria Kamen, and sis, Lisa Wexler, in the book Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love. (Just in time for Mother's Day!) Their prescription for successful parenting (friendships, dating, etc.) has a universal quality to it, so it's not only for Jewish moms."

"I felt this book was incredibly smart. It shows the ups and downs of these three women's lives. Like the book title says "Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love." Nothing is sugarcoated and artificial. I really like how each chapter of the book has stories from each person's life. How Jill dealt with divorce, Gloria's struggle with her friendships at certain points in her life, and Lisa's view on money...In conclusion, I really feel this book is a wonderful read. It makes you think differently about life in certain ways that you normally don't."
-Sammi's Blog of Life

" astonishing cornucopia of heartfelt insights from three savvy, headstrong women who share tried- and-true strategies for dealing with universal issues relating to friendship, dating, marriage, parenting, and family, and you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate it."
-Elise Pearlman, Huntington Patch

"All-in-All, I love everything that the three mothers had written. I did learn quite a bit of things from each and every one of them. I liked the fact they each gave their own advice and stories in each chapter. From friendship, dating, beauty, marriage, parenting, money and more, this is a great book and a keeper! Another part I liked was in the chapters there was a section called 'Ask Yourself', because I do find myself answering the questions... So I would like to say Mazel Tov to Jill, Lisa and Gloria. Toda. Thank you for letting me read this wonderfully written book."

"It's not just a Jewish mother that has these secrets, it's a lovely book."
-Kathy Lee Gifford, Today

"It's a good book, check it out."
-Steve Doocy, Fox & Friends

"From friendships to love, marriage and children, the book covers many aspects of life with laugh-out-loud stories and pointed advice the [authors] have learned as Jewish mothers and Jewish daughters."

"No-nonsense advice."
-Daily Beast

"Practical advice. A mother's wisdom: Know how to laugh at yourself apologize when you're wrong and always carry pepper spray!"

"Aside from advice on raising kids and stories from Kamen and her daughters, Secrets of a Jewish Mother deals with marriage, friendship, dating, money, and more, and includes practical quizzes and self- assessment action steps."
-Shalom Life

"You don't have to be Jewish to read this book, but after reading this book everyone will want to be Jewish. The best practical advice a girl could need from three extraordinary Jewish mothers....Jill's, Lisa's, and Gloria's advice will save you a lifetime of aggravation."
-Patti Stanger, Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker

"Gloria epitomizes the Jewish Mother! She has a heart of gold and earrings to match!"
-Fran Drescher

"You don't have to be Jewish to need a good Jewish mother. Gloria has sooooooo much good advice....Chicken soup has got nothing on this lady."
-Molly Shannon

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (April 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525951792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525951797
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,364,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

132 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Y. R. Wu TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I heard the controversy behind this book and had to see it for myself.

I found it hard to put down - and not in a good way. I was driven by morbid curiosity, like rubbernecking at a car accident.

Now I don't know who Jill Zarin is and have never watched "Real Housewives of New York" but as I skimmed through the book I found the nuggets of wisdom to be either pretty much common sense or, more often, "Tips on how to perpetuate any number of negative stereotypes about Jewish people and New Yorkers."

Want to "get" a man? - then you need fake lashes, big hair and red dress out. Don't settle for less than you deserve - unless he makes good money. It's better if he loves you more than you love him (where's did I put my Love-O-Meter?) Great tips if your goal is a loveless marriage on Long Island Sound!

The rest of the tips were pretty strange and flaky - I suppose if you're living off your parent's dime and dating a dentist then you don't care about taking your dinner home from a restaurant.

In between the "car crashes" was a lot of gossipy, syrupy stuff about growing up - I found these stories to be incredibly boring but I guess some people watch Nascar for the car wrecks too.

The more I read it the more I couldn't believe this was a serious self-help book. Was this written by monkeys? Published by The Onion? I peeked behind the potted plant to see if there was a hidden camera.

Perhaps the title should be "Secrets of a Jewish Mother: how to make sure you and your daughters are attractive and financially secure but still as miserable and petty as you are."

I'm waiting for the "Real Housewives of West Virginia" version to come out. That should be good for some laughs too.
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335 of 367 people found the following review helpful By scott89119 VINE VOICE on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Secrets of a Jewish Mother is ostensibly a collection of warm fuzzies about life, love, and friendship from two generations of a Jewish family. The entire reason for its having been written in the first place, however, is to satisfy the ego of Jill Zarin, currently on the cast of the Real Housewives of New York City. Every week we see our beloved author constantly degrade and demean former friends, turn up her nose at the lower classes, and in general act like an entitled snit. Yet we are supposed to listen to what she says, even though it comes from quite a disingenuous source.

Fortunately the book never tries to be anything but what it is, a trite hodgepodge of anecdotes that anyone over 13 should have learned simply by being a member of society. There is nothing new here, no deep psychoanalysis, no revelatory theories about what makes people tick, nothing that you couldn't glean from a few hours watching Lifetime. Then again, with Jill Zarin on the cover did you expect anything more than banal, uninspiring melodrama? Get a hobby.
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116 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Jacinda on April 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book exemplifies that quote perfectly. The advice given in this book is rather elementary to put it mildly. Condescending might be another way to put it. For example, 'take responsibility for your actions,'& 'be happy for your friends when good things are going on for them.' This is how most people live anyway. The fact that it's being written in a book as a 'newsflash' suggests the authors have no faith in people or do not view others in a very compassionate way. This was also evident in the combative tone. The overall feel of the book is that it's from the point of view of people who do not view others as being valuable (unless you're an eligible bachelor with $$). In fact, people described in the book (in their stories) are most often portrayed as outsiders who don't understand them & whose actions and feelings don't have validity. For example, Lisa tells a story of a girl who wasn't worth her time while she was alive (the tone again was hostile) but when she dies, Lisa went to the funeral & the family members got angry with her for ignoring the girl all her life- which she evidently thought was wrong of them to feel (and seemed unaware of how high emotions run at a funeral, esp. one for a younger person). Gloria tells a story about how her group of girlfriends dropped her & the conflict was never resolved- with the message being that they (collectively) must have been wrong and she, right. Jill tells a story about a falling out she had w/ a friend & again there was no resolution (just a tacit implication that he wasn't worth it anyway). It would appear that the average person is more socially skillful, could have handled these situations better, and probably learned more from the experiences than these authors did. All in all the authors convey a message that is emotionally immature and severely lacking in human empathy.
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242 of 265 people found the following review helpful By J.M. on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read this book and am ashamed and sorry I did. It was a total waste of my time and the advice is worthless. Marry rich so life will be easier? That's been said for centuries and doesn't make for a happy life. It's also shallow, deceitful and insincere. If taking Jill's advice is supposed to be some profound revelation - it's not. Common sense will serve you better than to listen to someone that acts in such a mean and hateful manner. It's written to take advantage of her quasi-celebrity and to make a fast buck. Save your time and money.
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