Book Review: The Nanny Diaries

“Book Review” is probably a generous description, as this is less review and more rant.  It’s not my fault that it’s a poorly-written book.  It is my fault that I read most of it.

I’m a nanny and I like to read.  As such, some people assume I like to read (crappy) books like The Nanny Diaries. Ugh, no.  I tend to read about things like Tudor history, biological weapons, and contemporary politics.  The last three books that I’ve chosen for myself are: Clinton’s Secret Wars: The Evolution of a Commander-in-Chief by Richard T. Sale; Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor; and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond.  The first my dad recommended to me, the second I found via a search (because I am a huge dork), and the third is because I like her website/food.  I’m not opposed to fiction or books about the ins-and-outs of the nanny world; I’m opposed to books that annoy me.

Fine, I admit it: I read most of The Nanny Diaries.  I made it all the way until I got so incredibly annoyed with the characters that I had to chuck the book out of my second-story window, in hopes that it would land in the compost pile where it belonged.  My primary problem was with the characters; I didn’t find ANY of them to be AT ALL likeable.  Granted, it was marketed as a light read, so the parents were likely going to be one-dimensional, lunatic losers.  Fine, fine.  The book isn’t really about the parents, although the mother-nanny relationship would have added some depth to the book, which was definitely stuck on the stairs of the shallow end.  I have more trouble with the lack of development of the nanny; I didn’t much like her either.  Honestly, I would not have wanted her taking care of my kids (that I don’t have) nor would I particularly have wanted her in my house – as an employee or as a roommate.  I found her unlikable as a person and as a professional.  I find it hard to sympathize with a character I don’t like…I’m petty like that.  The biggest issue I had with the (lack of) character development was the flatness of the kid, because oh-my-gosh, kids are great and hilarious and THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN HIS STORY.  Grayer ought to have been the focal point that tied everyone and everything else together.   

In my time, I’ve bumped into a couple of unlikable parents and their equally unlikable children.  Much like with this book, I often desire to defenestrate them.  Unlike with this book, it isn’t a viable option to do so – and not just because I make their acquaintance at places like the park or classes.

I’ve blocked much of the story from my memory.  I struggled to get beyond my frustrations over the characters, as conceptually this had the potential to be a pretty stellar story.  There is just only so much space in my head and it’s dedicated to things like remembering the harmony to “This Land is Your Land” and the phone number for Poison Control – the latter of which I might need if I ever attempt to read the sequel.


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