Mother Jones's Diary

Mother superior Allison Pearson
photo: Jerry Bauer
Mother superior Allison Pearson


I Don't Know How She Does It
By Allison Pearson
Knopf, 338 pp., $23
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The Nanny Diaries is all about laughing at rich people's foibles. I Don't Know How She Does It, on the other hand, relies on readers' laughing at their own foibles as embodied by Kate Reddy. Several reviewers have held up Pearson's syrupy ending as proof that women "can't have it all." The real world of working moms is too messy and open-ended for that kind of oversimplification. Besides, this either/or mentality focuses on the wrong questions, putting all the burden to figure it out on women—one that nearly crushes Kate, despite her financial advantages. The success of Pearson's book—as uneven as it is—brings women's whispered conversation to the general public, upping the stakes in this new era of mommy lit.

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