book review :: momzillas

Jill Kargman

First a confession: I picked up Momzillas because I learned about it at The W. In fact, the author was doing a book tour in which she stopped at a couple of W hotels to talk and sign her book. I also thought the cover was cool – I am a sucker for Bugaboos.

Now onto the book. The characters were actually quite scary. I know that the book is fiction, but I know too that the author is from this part of the world. I also know that most works of fiction like this are "toned down" so that they seem more believable. Bottom line is that while I don't doubt people like this exist, I am certainly glad I don't have to hang out with them, and honestly I can only pray that their offspring learn from the mistakes of their parents and either don't breed or get lots of therapy before they do.

The story is told from the point of view of Hannah Allen, a west coast gal who suddenly finds herself and her toddler daughter, Violet, trying to figure out mommyhood in New York's Upper East Side. Her husband (a native) has seized upon a new job opportunity, and is pretty much unable to help her. Instead he appoints as her guides his mother, the esteemed Lila Allen Dillingham, as well as his best friend's wife, the MILTB*, Bee Elliott. Hannah wants to please but is baffled by the preposterous behavior of the women in this circle.

I will give Hannah credit. She does has gumption. For example, when one woman describes a service in which they come and snap hundreds of photos of your child's nursery so that they can replicate it at your hotel where you are vacationing, she has little hesitation about asking how much this costs ($10,000 depending on your fabrics, of course), although she knows it will be one more point against her. But she also takes her mother-in-law showing up unannounced at her apartment where she then shares her opinions of what she feels Hannah is doing wrong at the moment (in case you haven't guessed Hannah isn't from the same class as her husband). All the while Bee Elliott feels threatened and reverts to the antics of a sixth grade school girl in an attempt to have Hannah ostracized. Like I said, these folks are scary.

What I liked least about the book was the ending, although at the time I read it (while B's parents were here and things were awful) I needed it to be the way it is. So I certainly don't blame the author for taking that route. I just honestly doubt that it would ever happen that way. Also I just didn't feel like Hannah as a character was worthy of such an ending (in many ways I didn't feel she was much better than the others).

This is one of those books that is more funny hee-hee than funny ha-ha, if you know what I mean. Sure there are parts that will make you laugh out loud, but underneath is the reality that there are women – mothers no less – out there who may not act as wild as the characters in this novel, but exist. People who see children as fashion accessories. People who are more concerned with the name of the school than what is actually taught there. People who if they had to spend a day completely alone with their son or daughter wouldn't have a clue what to do.

So while it is a quick read and in many ways a fun one, I fear that too many people will read it and think that they are nothing like that. Or worse use it as ammunition to judge other mothers. I don't think this was the message of the book by any means. Unfortunately I just think it is how people are.


*MILTF : Mothers I'd Like to F*#$. The front of the book has a glossary of terms.

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