Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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*        = Good, with reservations


*The Nanny Diaries

by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Reviewed September 18, 2002.
St. Martin’s Press, 2002.  306 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F MCL).

Is it possible for a book to be both funny and depressing?  Strange, but that’s what I felt this book was.  I’ve promised that I won’t review books that I didn’t enjoy, so I had to really think about whether to include this.  Two things won me over.  First, the Prologue of the book was laugh-out-loud hilarious, giving a description of a generic interview between a potential nanny and a rich employer.  Second, I have at least one friend who I think would really enjoy it--my friend Jody, who once worked as a nanny.

I found the main part of the book, though, quite depressing.  The authors have worked as nannies, and told the story of Nanny, who worked for the wealthy New York X family, while trying to finish her course at NYU.  Mrs. X, who has no discernible meaningful activities, organizes her life to make the most of her riches and not let that be disturbed in any way by her son, Grayer.  She hires Nanny to tend Grayer, then takes advantage of Nanny in a multitude of ways.  The father, Mr. X, manages to avoid being with his family for an extended length of time, even carrying out an affair while his wife is away, which Nanny stumbles into.

All in all, these just aren’t very nice people.  Even Nanny’s personal life seems pretty shallow, as she starts a relationship with a guy whom we only know is from Harvard and very good-looking.  If there’s more depth to the relationship than that, it’s not obvious to the reader.  In the end, we come away, like Nanny, with our hearts bleeding for little four-year-old Grayer, the poor little rich boy.

One other good thing I can say about the book is that it was the perfect illustration of our pastor’s recent sermons from Ecclesiastes on the vanity of riches!  If you ever have trouble with feeling envious of rich people, this book will help cure you.  You will feel good about every minute of time and attention and care that you’ve given to your own children!  I’m afraid that if I thought that this book wasn’t based on truth, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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