Michelle's Reviews > Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
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's review
May 01, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: never-finished
Recommended to Michelle by: parenting book club
Recommended for: nobody
Read on May 01, 2012 , read count: 1

I started reading this book b/c I had heard about it, and then a new parenting bookclub that I'm in had talked about it a lot. So I came to it with curiosity and hope for insightful perspectives. Instead, I could barely get through the intro and first chapter. Unlike many people, I did not like this book.

The author writes well, but I could tell that she is a journalist (in a bad way) b/c she writes in soundbites. It's very catchy, sexy, but she makes sweeping generalizations, and her writing is anecdotal in a not-helpful way and not data-driven. For example, she makes the broad statement that French children sleep through the night at age 2-3 months whereas American children don't even at age 1. Where is the data? Is this a fact, or is based on the people she randomly talked with, which is also subject to measurement error? Perhaps she has nationally representative data later on in the book, but if she does, then her writing is not rigorous enough to credit the data results when she relies on it in the intro.

I could not get past the soundbite nature of her writing. After the intro chapter, I start reading the first chapter, in which she seems to endlessly talk about her job layoff, how her relationship with her "swarthy" British boyfriend/husband started, and how they ended up living in Paris. First, she didn't even transition to explaining the role of this section of writing. Instead, the intro had ended and then she suddenly began this slow navel-gazing passage about her layoff and boyfriend/husband. I was confused about where she was going b/c I thought this was a book about parenting, not her job layoff and search for a boyfriend. Anyway, she came off as a self-absorbed writer who liked to hear herself talk.

Several people mentioned that this book was helpful in seeing that French mothers don't feel guilty about numerous aspects of their parenting the way American mothers do. My spouse pointed out that it's books like these that contribute to mother guilt here in America, books that say you're doing it wrong, do it this way. I thought that was an interesting observation.

So this book was not for me. I strongly disliked her style of writing, and I prefer parenting books by trained professionals on the topic and based on high quality academic research.
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Reading Progress

05/04/2016 marked as: never-finished

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Alicen (new) - added it

Alicen Fabulous and well-articulated review - thank you!

Michelle Alicen wrote: "Fabulous and well-articulated review - thank you!"

Thanks! Later I realized how strongly negative I was about this book, but for me, it left a bad taste in my mouth and just wasn't for me. I should have added more caveats that it would probably speak to many others, but it just wasn't my cup of tea, since I come more from an academic background. Thanks for commenting!

message 3: by Alicen (new) - added it

Alicen I think your review was very well done and your candor was appreciated!

Betty Maybe you should have continued reading it before judging it so harshly

Michelle I've never experienced a nonfiction book get better after the first chapter. Just ended up wasting my time.

Michelle A nonfiction book establishes its premise for the rest of the book in the first chapter. If they can't succeed in doing that, then the author's writing ability and the rest of the book are problematic.

message 7: by Alicen (new) - added it

Alicen Agree Michelle!

Andy I came here looking for someone who would call out this author's obsessive use of the word "swarthy" and I was not disappointed. There are millions of words that you can get away with using nine times in the course of a book without anyone noticing. But "swarthy" stands out in a bad way.

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