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Showing posts from February, 2011

Batte Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

I read this because one of my upcoming podcasts is going to be about the Tiger Mother phenom that is taking over the country AND because one of my co-workers went to Yale Law, where Ms. Chua and her husband both teach.  I really enjoyed this book, even though I may not subscribe to her parenting style wholeheartedly (but that's for the next podcast!).

This book is actually a mommy memoir - which I think gets lost in the shuffle of the hoopla that has surrounded this book.  In it Chua tells of her struggle to raise her children in the traditional "chinese" way while living in the United States and, specifically, in a culture that seems to espouse what she calls "Western" syle parenting, in which children seem to have all the flexibility that they want without all the discipline. This isn't a parenting guide - Ms. Chua doesn't tell one how to be a "tiger mom."

I respect Ms. Chua's complete and utter honesty in writing this book. She really…

Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

I picked up this book because I have a daughter.  My son also goes to school with daughters - some of whom are totally going through the princess phase. Some women think it's "just a phase" by Orenstein wholeheartedly disagrees and this book is her argument as to why it isn't just a phase and why it can hurt more than help. Orenstein does this by looking at things like the little girl beauty pagents to sexting and other online communiques by girls.  She also looks at the Disney Princesses and fairy tales and what that means to our daughters as well.

I think that this is an important book, albeit a flawed and limited one. it would work wonders, perhaps, for the white mother of privilege that has a white daughter at home but it wouldn't translate well to multiracial or children of color or to people that aren't so well off. Aside from a very brief discussion of Disney's recent The Princess and the Frog, there isn't any other discussion about race and …

Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot

In this masterful book, Lise Eliot looks at a tremendous amount of studies that compare boys and girls in an effort to determine whether there really is a biological difference that contributes to gender or if it's nature.  Dr. Eliot says that it may be a little of both - there are miniscule biological differences between boys and girls at birth that form our core assumptions.  Our assumptions are then projected onto our sons and daughters, thereby solidifying the differences and creating a self fulfilling prophecy - in essence, while there may be a biological difference in why boys are better at spatial projections than girls, our assumptions that girls are worse at it than boys makes those differences wider, which is a shame because Dr. Eliot believes that those gaps can be closed with socialization in the opposite direction.  After clearly explaining the scientific research conducted in areas such as the role that testoterone plays in development while in utero and why boys lag…

The Dissident by Nell Freudenberger

This book was on The NY Times list for 2010's most notable books and I thought that it was a good book, but maybe not one that should have been on the list.

It is obvious that Ms. Freudenberger was heavily inspired by the Chinese art of the early nineties because that is the crux of her novel.  Her story actually focuses on a group of artists that comprised the East Village art consortium of Beijing. One of them travels to Southern California to teach art at a prestigious, private all girls academy and lives with a family of one of his students. Yuan Zhao is the fictitious member who lives with a somewhat disfunctional family - the Travers family. The four family members barely interact with each other and have no interest in their supposedly famous guest.

i didn't feel that the Travers family and the sections that focussed on them were very well developed at all.  Perhaps Fruedenberger did this intentionally to make it obvious to us that this family is super shallow, but I w…