Monday, June 27, 2011

#BookReview: The Ivy Chronicles - Karen Quinn

You can always tell when an author lives inside his or her own little bubble.  They don't write characters outside of their norm well.  They tend to make them exaggerated caricatures of what they think a particular group or race behaves or speaks like.  And that's the biggest problem I ran into with The Ivy Chronicles.

Ivy Ames is having the worst day ever.  On the same day that she loses her six figure job, she comes home to find her husband (who lost his six figure job awhile ago) in the tub with the wife of the man that just fired her. After putting her husband out, Ivy realizes that she needs to take drastic measures to keep her household afloat.  Selling her Park Avenue condo, cutting out manis, pedis and overpriced haircuts for herself and the dog, selling her car and taking her girls out of private school gives them just enough to live on in their new apartment in a less than desirable neighborhood.

Ivy was a marketing genius at her old job and it doesn't take long for her to put those skills to work, marketing herself as a Manhattan admissions counselor...for kindergartners.  You read that right.  Admission to private schools in New York can be cut throat and, as the mother of two former private school students herself, Ivy knows how to work the system.  And if parents are willing to pay her $ 20,000 to help them get their four or five year old children into school, why shouldn't she accept their money.

Where it starts to get sticky and becomes a turnoff is when she stereotypes the families that she's assisting.  There's the overbearing Jewish mother who was such a failure at getting her daughter into pre-school the previous year that Ivy decides they should darken the child up and "give her a black name", Waukesha Washington.  Ma'am, what in the hell is a black name?   Then there's the father from New Jersey so, of course, he has to be in the mob.  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Anyone that wasn't a WASP got stereotyped.  And that's really a shame, because this could have been a hilarious book if the author didn't live in her Park Avenue bubble.

What did you like about the book?
It really had a lot of funny moments.

What didn't you like about the book?
The stereotyping was the biggest thing.  If they weren't so horribly offensive, I would have rated the book higher.

What could the author do to improve the book?
To improve her writing and life, I suggest that she step out of her comfort zone.

Published December 2004
Listening time: 11 hours

Theme: No Sleep Til Brooklyn by The Beastie Boys

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