I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins.
This is a tricky book for me to review. As a (relatively) new mom, I have found myself drawn to all sorts of child-rearing books lately. This one sounded like it would offer a much-appreciated dose of humor to this often weighty subject. Elizabeth Beckwith is a stand-up comedian who comes from a large Italian family well-versed in the art of the manipulation of children. Each chapter in the book focuses on a different area of this novel approach to child-rearing such as "Mind Control: Why It's a Good Thing." Beckwith also includes tidbits from her own childhood throughout the book to provide a humorous look at family life in the Beckwith household.
While this book is certainly more of a spoof on child-rearing books than an actual "how-to" book, a lot of Beckwith's advice seems pretty reasonable while offering a dash of humor. Beckwith is at her best when she offers accounts of her own childhood and family. I often laughed out loud at those parts. Most will appreciate her dry and witty approach to this subject. Especially those who are in their thirties who will recognize many of her references.
While this book is only 240 pages, I had a hard time getting through it. It was amusing but not very compelling. I think the fault lies with me and not the book. I don't seem to connect well to humorous child-rearing books. I recently tried to read and review another book in this genre and just gave up. I could not get into it. I think that sometimes, Beckwith tried to be a little TOO clever and self-reflexive. The discussion questions and "letters to the author" at the end of each chapter seemed unnecessary and a little too "clever." If Beckwith had offered more of her own family/childhood stories rather than focus on creating a parody out of parenting books, it would have been much more effective.
BOTTOM LINE: I will recommend this book for parents looking for a little humor in their child-rearing reading. While I was slightly disappointed, I still found much of it to be very amusing.