Award-winning journalist Susan Jane Gilman is the author of KISS MY TIARA. She is also a regular contributor to the New York Times, Newsday, Ms., The Los Angeles Times and Lilith. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband but is currently on a 2-year stint in Geneva, Switzerland.
Gilman's memoir of growing up on Manhattan's upper Upper West Side in the '70s starts slowly but gathers momentum. Readers who find themselves drifting during Gilman's reveries on lying during show-and-tell will find themselves pleasantly riveted by the time she's getting in touch with her roots as a reporter for the Jewish Week. Gilman, author of 2001's Kiss My Tiara, a women's self-help guide, makes common scenarios fresh with humor and wry social commentary; on the first day of school, she quickly learns "boys might be fighters, but girls could be terrorists." Gilman's ear for dialogue is dead-on. When her brother asks their dad why their Jewish family celebrates Christmas, she doesn't miss a beat: " `Because your grandmother's a Communist and your mother loves parties,' said my father. `Now eat your supper.' " These one-liners don't detract, however, from a serious and moving look at one family's efforts to keep itself intact through divorce and other life challenges. After her parents separate, Gilman, then in her mid-20s, fears she and her brother had spent their childhoods in happy oblivion while their parents were "spellbound with misery." Probably not: Gilman's recollections of moving bumpily toward adulthood are keenly observant. She's nicely made the leap from self-help to narrative nonfiction. Agent, Irene Skolnick. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-Gilman has a gift for showing the humor in the ordinary. Her memoir takes readers from her childhood in the late 1960s and early '70s through adulthood and marriage. As the book opens, she is reminiscing about the summer of 1969 when she was four and her parents took her to a commune where one of their friends was filming a documentary. She got to personify "innocence" by dancing naked on the beach with other children. Other experiences include the challenges of being the only Jewish girl attending a private Presbyterian school, her mother's enthusiasm for transcendental meditation, and her own infatuation (and ultimate meeting) with Mick Jagger. Set against the backdrop of New York's Upper West Side, her descriptions of the insecurities that plagued her as an adolescent ring with truth. Gilman's narrative illustrates how the highs and lows that mark the teen years are remarkably similar among generations, and suggests that perhaps the gap isn't so wide after all. As she shares some of her adult experiences-career choices, the effects of her parents' divorce after she and her brother were grown, a work-related trip to the Polish concentration camps-her refreshing blend of humor and frankness does not trivialize the significance of her observations. Gilman's is not an extraordinary life, but she offers a view of American culture over the past 35 years that is compelling and highly readable.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.