I was recently sent a copy of the new book by “Project Runway” season three contestant Laura Bennett, a humorous collection of essays about parenting her six children called Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday? A Mother’s Guide to Sanity in Stilettos, to review. The book was sent to me by Laura herself, and you can read about how that came about on my personal blog.
I told Laura I’d be happy to give an honest review of her book, and I started reading it immediately after ripping open the envelope in which it was mailed.
Although I read very few books these days because I’m so busy writing one, I was excited to read Laura’s because (number one) she was my favorite contestant on “Project Runway” that season and (number two) I like to laugh. After reading some of her stuff over at The Daily Beast, I felt very certain that this book wouldn’t be disappointing in the least.
And it wasn’t.
I am being completely on-the-level by telling you that I actually LOLed on the second page, and the first page only has one paragraph on it. I probably set a personal lifetime record for “quickest LOL while reading a book, ever.”
One of the things I really liked about this book is that it’s an essay collection. I am not known for sitting down much, and what’s great about a book full of essays is that you’re always near a stopping point. Also, you don’t have to remember any huge plot twists, like what Sue Ellen was doing the night J.R. Ewing was shot*, in order to pick up the book and continue reading after a really busy day.
Another thing I really liked about the book is that I didn’t want to put it down and go on with my busy day. I took it with me wherever I went, and read little snippets at every available free moment.
Laura is funny. Her no-nonsense outlook and “old-fashioned” (read: she’s not trying to be today’s idea of a “perfect parent”, because that doesn’t exist) parenting style might make some of the more uptight 21st century moms out there cringe (and laugh at the same time, to be sure), but as someone who “sterilized” my sons’ dropped pacifiers by putting them in my own mouth for a quick rinse, I find her so refreshing in this day and age.
Laura is definitely unconventional, and that’s not a bad thing in the slightest. She has help in her household, and lots of it. (with six kids, she needed to ensure that she and husband Peter weren’t put in a position to be outnumbered, you know?) She dresses with style (and heels!) on a daily basis. She lets her kids “eat snacks replete with artificial preservatives and colors while other mothers are making their teenagers use safety scissors.” Her stories about traveling with the kids, escaping to their house in the country, and even how she and her husband came up with their kids’ names are absolutely hilarious. She included a chapter about her participation in “Project Runway” too, and fans like me will enjoy reading about which of her children stayed up late to watch it with her and who stood in the audition line on her behalf.
I found myself wondering as I was reading if Laura’s kids realize yet what a fun mom they have. They probably don’t yet, because she is their mother and they don’t know anything different. The freedom she gives them to express themselves, to just be kids, was a treat to read about.
Laura definitely makes holidays memorable for her family, too. She’s got a whole chapter that focuses on them, and goes into extensive detail about Halloween, which is her favorite holiday. She describes the costume she always wears, that of “the mad scientist’s creature”. One of the components of the costume is a latex dress, which she bought “at a fetish shop in the East Village, one of the last New York neighborhoods that hasn’t been sanitized of its sex shops.” She describes the process she must endure in order to wear this dress (sprinkling powder inside the dress and on her body before it’s rolled onto her), and this is where one of my favorite passages in the book comes in:
“Once you’re dressed, there is baby powder everywhere and polishing to be done. The boys, each equipped with a handful of silicone gel, rub me down until I shine like a brand-new sex toy in a Times Square window (before Disney, that is). I can only wonder what lasting effects this activity will have on their sexuality, but I figure they will end up in therapy for some reason, so why not make life interesting for their eventual shrinks? You spend that kind of money, someone better be entertained.”
I was doing some Googling and was so lucky to find this video, from the Bravo website, of Halloween at Laura’s. She’s in her mad scientist’s creature costume, her kids are in costume, and it includes a snippet of them getting their groove on with the dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. If this video doesn’t make you want to go and buy her book right now, I might wonder what’s wrong with you. Just watch.
I could go on, but I’ll just be giving away too much of the book, and I don’t think Laura had that in mind when she asked me to review it. Let me just summarize by saying that I give it two thumbs up. I adored reading these essays by a fellow mom who, like me, believes that parents should love and care for their children, of course, but also have other things going on that aren’t directly related to the kids. In today’s world where parents strive to 1) be perfect, 2) not do anything that might remotely hurt their kids’ feelings, 3) try to boost their kids’ self esteem at every possible moment, and 4) act like making their entire world revolve around their children is okay and will have no ill effects later, reading this book was like a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. What I didn’t like about it is that Laura doesn’t have her second book finished yet. Seriously.
Laura is offering a signed copy of her book to one of my readers!! I’m going to make it very, very easy for you: all you have to do to enter is leave ONE comment (multiple comments will be deleted). Make sure that you either leave your e-mail address in the comment or that I can click on your name and get right to your website so I can contact you. I will use random.org to draw the winner. The contest will be open until 10:00 p.m. Central Time NEXT Thursday, April 29. If I contact the winner and don’t hear back within three days, I will choose someone else.
Don’t forget to check out my interview with Laura on my personal blog: click here.
If you can’t wait for the contest to be over and want to buy Laura’s book, you can get it at your favorite online bookseller by clicking here.
Good luck, and thanks for visiting!
*I just dated myself, didn’t I? Okay, how about this: “you don’t have to remember any huge plot twists, like what that dude said on ‘Lost’ right before the argument**”
**No, I don’t watch “Lost”. That obvious?