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The Perfect Stranger: The Truth About Mothers and Nannies Hardcover – May 29, 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The rift between stay-at-home mothers and working mothers continues to be played out in the media, and Kaylin (the executive editor for Marie Claire and author of For the Love of God) deftly focuses on the women who make it possible for working mothers to continue their careers and leave the raising of the children (and the running of the household) to a stay-at-home substitute: the nanny. Part how-to and part plea for absolution from the guilt... that comes with enlisting the help of a nanny, Kaylin's primer is for women faced with finding a modern-day Mary Poppins. Kaylin speaks from her own experience and includes interviews with nannies and mothers alike (primarily in New York City), so the book abounds with anecdotes to soothe some mothers' worries while stoking the fears of others. Wage, class and race issues are all duly addressed, but the book's primary focus is the ambivalent relationship between mother and nanny, fraught with vacillating emotions of fear, mistrust, love, dependence and subtle struggles for power that rival those in any workplace. Kaylin keeps a brisk pace throughout the book, which is laced with true confessions (including what some mothers discovered through the use of a nanny-cam, a hidden video camera) and provides a valuable resource to any mother facing the challenge of hiring, well, herself.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“The SAHM vs. WOHM debate is an active one...Magazine editor and mother Lucy Kaylin explores this complex relationship in her new book, "The Perfect Stranger: The Truth About Mothers and Nannies." After speaking with mothers, nannies and babysitters, Kaylin outlines the challenges, joys and emotions from both sides of this intimate issue.” ―Urban Baby

“[A] frank, humble and big-hearted account of one of the most fraught aspects of modern motherhood...Grippingly but not giddily, Ms. Kaylin...fill[s] readers in on the Cheerios-begrimed true history behind the parodies, demonstrating that most nannies are not hired by socialites in white-glove buildings, but by cash-strapped working women, who turn over to them a substantial portion (sometimes all) of their earnings.” ―New York Times

“Straightforward and engaging…Kaylin is a superb reporter, and her anecdotes ring true on both sides of the equation--the underpaid, overworked babysitter is given as much respect as the ambivalence-ridden, well-meaning mom. What Kaylin has accomplished here is a soul-opening portrait of this murky relationship that any working mother will relate to and find oddly uplifting for calling it like it is.” ―O Magazine

“The nervy Lucy Kaylin bravely dares to confront the emotionally fraught relationship between mothers and The Perfect Stranger (Bloomsbury) they pay to nurture their children.” ―Vanity Fair

“Kaylin addresses [the] controversy without flinching...taken as a whole, her book is more well-crafted collage than polemic -- a portrait of the uneasy symbiosis between less-than-loaded two-income families and the 'unprecedented influx of women from economically unstable places,' of villageless mothers doing their best to raise a child…Absolution, she can't promise. But the book should at least serve as a big, huge greeting card to mothers who hire nannies.” ―Salon

“Provides a valuable resource to any mother facing the challenge of hiring, well, herself.” ―Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582344078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582344072
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,422,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading this book! It seems to be marketed towards working mom's but I am a stay-at-home mom with 3 kids under the age of three (we have a part time nanny) and I still felt as though I related to every word in this book. It is written with hilarious wit -- some parts truly hit home and were so funny that I actually marked the page to read again in the future just to give me a laugh. The book brings to light all the things that as a mom (working or stay-at-home) overwhelms and worries us as we try to stay sane while caring for our children and hiring help to give us "a break". The best is that the book points out the comedy and humor in all of it along with exploring the working relationship we have with our children's nanny's/regular babysitters.

If I had to find something "bad" about the book -- it does seem to get a little wordy in the middle and the author seems to loose the wit and humor that got me pouring into the book. It also occasionally paints a stereotypical portrait of working mom's on the extreme side. For example -- the author states that when she took her kids to the park, even though she really didn't want to, she didn't know how to push them on the swings resulting in the youngest falling off... I thought that seemed at tad bit exaggerated. But when the book comes to a close the author picks back up her great wit and humor, leaving you smiling. Definitely read this book! You'll love it!

After you are done reading this book another great one that will have you laughing out loud is "What's the Matter With Mommy?"
What's the Matter With Mommy?: Rantings of a Reluctant Stay-at-home Mom
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Format: Hardcover
Perfect Stranger was refreshing and insightful. As a new mom returning to work, I was overwhelmed with guilt and nervous about employing a nanny. Lucy Kaylin's necessary book examined many of the emotions I was feeling and essentially comforted me. I was able to examine my conflicts and fears with tools extracted from the both the author's and others' nanny relationship experiences set forth in the book. While no nanny is perfect (though she must be a million different things), neither is any mom. I am confident now that together with my husband, our nanny and I will raise my son with love and laughter. As for my relationship with our nanny, as Kaylin points out, while the expectation is not that our nanny be my best friend, it is the mutual expectation that there be respect, fairness and honesty.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book when it was first published.
I loved it!
As a professional working nanny l can understand the ups and downs of moms and nanny relationships.
When l am completing an assignment, l make it a point to purchase a copy of this book and gift it to my employers.
A must read book for any mom.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it during the last few weeks of my maternity leave. It is insightful, tackling lot's of potentially difficult topics that invariably come up when working with a nanny. It helped me anticipate potential difficulties both with emotions and common challenges navigating this important relationship. I will be gifting this book to any friend thinking about or working with a nanny.
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