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As flavorless as a rice cake
on June 20, 2001
Catchy title and format (every chapter is a different woman's role), but fails to deliver anything of real substance. Although this is not a true memoir, at times it reads like one. Some of the autobiographical sections are very interesting. Cokie comes from a privileged background. She grew up in a very educated family, and she had lots of contact with a very large and loving extended family. The second fact is not very common to find nowadays, and i read in envy. I think some people dislike reading about happy childhoods, and criticize anything that strays away from Angela's Ashes.
But i digress. Cokie talks about facts and people that i had never heard about, and to me that is the main benefit of the book. I plan to read the autobiography of Esther Peterson, for example. However, as interesting as some of these facts were, i don't think they can save the book.
What i found most annoying about the book is the crude generalization that takes place when she writes about how women are connected through time. Where did she find that soundbyte? It's hard to connect to women in their 50's who make $500,000/year if you are a 24-year old high-school dropout on welfare (and that's not even including race into the equation). Also, all that talk about women being superwomen is empty of any true value. While i have to admit it is admirable that her mother cooked the entire banquet for Cokie's wedding by herself while taking care of a toddler grandson and dictating a speech (i freak out when more than 4 people come over for dinner), not everybody is made that way. In fact it is very good that not everybody is so capable. Cokie herself admits defeat when she acknowledges how she has missed many important occasions in the lives of her children. She, like millions of women out there, did it the best she could, but instead of admitting that, she proceeds to gloss over it, like it was no big deal after all. Contradictions abound, so caveat emptor. Do not expect deep commentary or analysis.