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The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet--A Memoir
The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet--A Memoir
by Dara-Lynn Weiss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.51
139 used & new from $0.01

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The privilege was hard to bear, May 14, 2013
I was one of the many women who read Weiss's article in Vogue, and gave voice to my outrage on a blog or two. I had no problem with Weiss putting her daughter on a diet if it was medically necessary, and her pediatrician said it was. What sent me over the edge was The Starbucks Incident, where Weiss denies her daughter a promised treat because Weiss ordered the drink incorrectly. I looked forward to reading the book, to see if I could get a clearer picture.

Indeed I did. Weiss tries hard to recognize her privilege as an upper middle class woman in NYC. But there were many instances of her just being tone deaf to the reality of other people. She is all me, me,me (or my daughter, my daughter, my daughter). No doubt it was frustrating to her for her child's school not to give her the nutrition information she needed about the school lunch program, and they should have done so. But Weiss also complains that her daughter's friends (or their nannies) often disregarded Weiss's instructions to give her daughter a snack for around 100 calories. What? The parent or nanny has to worry about having acceptable food in their home that fits in with her child's needs? No. Weiss should have packed her daughter her own snack, an option that never occurs to Weiss. She even compares her daughter's diet to a child who has food allergies. My son had a friend with food allergies, and he came prepared to every playdate with a cooler of his own food. He even brought his own pizza and cake to birthday parties! His mother wasn't depending on others to do her work for her.

I also had a good laugh a Weiss's preparation for her daughter going to overnight camp. She expected counselors to make sure her daughter had at least one active class, wanted a counselor to walk to cafeteria line with her and wanted someone to keep an eye on her at other times of the day to make sure she wasn't eating too much. I guess she wanted a personal counselor just for her daughter! She does laugh at herself for being 'insane', but then says her real crime was expecting the camp to do what she asked. That camps "don't have the time, interest or MOTIVATION (emphasis mine) to understand and adhere to such carefully outlined plans". Again, what? The camp cannot possibly do everything Weiss asked it to do, and it was extremely unrealistic for her to think it could. Again, her daughter would have needed her own counselor, attending to just her needs, for everything to go according to Weiss's wishes. Clearly that wasn't going to happen, but Weiss blames the camp.

Her self justification for feeding her kid Diet Coke and junk food as well as her belief that it just doesn't matter if you exercise is astounding. She tries so hard to convince the reader that junk food was better than real food for her daughter's diet that even I, who love my Coke Zero, was surprised. My kids eat more processed food than they should, but I'll never say that it's better for them than real food. But Weiss does, because she is obsessed with giving her daughter treats and rewards on a daily basis. She feels so guilty that her daughter has to diet that she gives her 100 calorie snack packs of cookies and Cool Whip Free to make up for it.

Weiss's husband also doesn't help the situation by dropping out of the diet process early on, even though Weiss says he has a weight problem as well. First he stops coming to the weigh ins, then stops dieting altogether. Soon enough, he is buying her daughter food she shouldn't be eating, and praising cheating on the diet. Nothing like Good Cop Daddy to play off of Bad Cop Mommy! Thanks a lot, Weiss's husband. It would have been better for you to show your daughter that you took your weight issues seriously too, but it was too much bother.

In all, I came away with a clearer picture of Weiss and her situation (but still think she handled The Starbucks Incident incorrectly.) I realize how tough it is to have your child on a diet when food is everywhere around you. But Weiss seems to think people will sympathize with her, and I could not. The health of her daughter is a serious issue, but Weiss doesn't see the forest for the trees. There must be a better way to handle the situation, and I hope that someone will one day write THAT book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 28, 2015 5:26 PM PDT

The Interestings: A Novel
The Interestings: A Novel
by Meg Wolitzer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.12
291 used & new from $0.01

30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Writer's tics got on my nerves, May 13, 2013
I will echo many others when I say that The Interestings is... not that Interesting. I think Wolitzer meant the name to be ironic, that the kids knew they weren't that interesting, but named themselves that anyway. I wanted to stand up and cheer when a character late in the novel bitterly remarked that the people his wife had befriended and idolized for years weren't really that interesting.

Meg Wolitzer had several writer's tics throughout the book that were like a slap in the face to me every time I noticed them. One is her constant use of the characters' full names, as in "Jules Jacobson-Boyd thought..." or "Robert Takishima said...". Did she think we would get confused, even though there was only one Jules and one Robert in the book? Page after page of people's full names for no apparent reason, very stilted and formal. Perhaps Wolitzer wanted us to keep our distance from the characters?

Also, Wolitzer uses words and thoughts much too sophisticated for her characters actual ages. Kids at summer camp talking about Nixon and Carter in detail? No. Wolitzer wants to set the timeline, so she has to have the characters talking about current events, whereas in real life, these kids would have been so pre-occupied with each other (which they were, anyway) that the outside world could have disappeared for all they knew.

I pushed through to get the denouement that I knew was coming, and after that the book kind of fell apart. Glad I finished it and glad to be able to return it to the library.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations
Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut: Essays and Observations
by Jill Kargman
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from $1.44

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enough with the made up words!, March 19, 2011
I enjoy Jill Kargman's books for what they are: light reading, with the occasional true-to-life observation that gets me to nod my head or laugh.

By the time I finished 'Momzillas', though, I was rolling my eyes at the made up catch phrases, the abbreviations of words and too-trendy slang. Do people really talk this way? On the Upper East side of New York, no less? Highly educated people who make tons of money? I somehow doubt it. It seems a little stunted to me, a little trying too hard to be cool.

I had hoped with this book, a collection of personal essays, Jill Kargman might try something different, and release herself from the constant need to show us her unique vocabulary (or, as she might say, 'vocab').

No dice.

The second line of the introduction has 'vomitorious', 'chunder-taunting' and ''kini cleaves' alone.

I enjoyed the real life Momzillas in 'My Vagina is the Holland Tunnel', and thought about going to the dermatologist after 'Tumor Humor'. I thought it was odd that she managed to bring her horror of vans back to herself after hearing a terrifying story (expressed sympathy for the victim? Not so much.) but on the whole an easy read before bed at night.

I guess I think Jill Kargman is a good enough writer that she could tone down the tap dancing for our attention, and still get it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 28, 2011 8:10 AM PDT

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