I Don’t Know How She Does It

Imagine that Bridget Jones grew up and instead of being concerned with weight loss and men, she was concerned with trying to be a hedge fund manager and supermom to  two kids.  That pretty much encapsulates I Don’t Know How She Does it .

Don’t get me wrong, I do like funny over-the-top British chick lit every now and then, but as I read this book I found myself wondering if the author was doing mothers any favors by sensationalizing the challenges they face. It reinforces the idea that EITHER you can be a successful career woman (defined in this book as having a 100 hour a week job, traveling internationally every few days, and never, ever sleeping) OR a successful mother (defined in this book as making homemade jams and pies, being with your children every minute, and never, ever sleeping).  I think that’s a false dichotomy.  Most working moms don’t put in 100 hour weeks.  Most stay at home moms don’t make jams and occasionally let their kids out of their sight.  I’ll concede the sleep point.  🙂

I don’t know, I just felt like there was a lot of hyperbole in the book that overshadowed the chance to make really salient points about the challenges of being a modern mom (working or not). I wished that the author would have made it more difficult for the reader to take sides.  I wish she had played up Kate’s background more as a motivation for why she works.  I think she did a good job of showing that Kate loves her children but made it too easy for readers to say “oh well then she should quit her job.”  At the end she tried to show Kate finding a way to be fulfilled as a mom and professionally, but it was such a small bit that it felt tacked on and rushed.

I don’t want to be too hard on the book – I did enjoy it in a fast-easy-read way, but I’m not sure if I would recommend it or not.  I’ve heard that the movie was changed substantially because Americans parent differently and because when the book was written there were no internet accessible phones.  So that will be sort of interesting to consider.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if this might not be a good book for a book club. It’s really really light, but there are a lot of interesting issues and questions to discuss about motherhood and expectations and society.  So perhaps I’d recommend it if you have a group to chat with about it, and if your group is interested in those issues.

If you’ve read the book, what did you think about it?


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