December 2011

Mother and daughter tell it like it is

By Francesca Serritella & Lisa Scottoline
Review by
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The premise of this newest essay collection by mother-daughter writing team Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella may be shaky—that moms and daughters the world over are best friends who sometimes get on each other’s nerves—but why quibble? Scottoline and Serritella, who tag team a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer called “Chick Wit” and had a hit with their last combined effort, My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, are seriously funny and seriously honest.

As always, Scottoline is at her acerbic, slightly off-color best when she ponders life as a middle-aged single mom with a houseful of unruly pets. Her take on how declining hormone levels equal lost sex drive: “Whether you’re married or not, this is excellent news. Why? Because you have better things to do and you know it. Your closet floor is dusty, and your underwear drawers are a mess. Your checkbook needs balancing, and it’s time to regrout your bathroom tile. Get on it. The bathroom, I mean.”

Serritella, 25, is still finding her own voice, an understandable situation given that her mother is an internationally best-selling novelist with 25 million copies of her books floating around. Many of Serritella’s essays mimic her mother’s trademark one-liner style, and even the topics she tackles (pets, her lack of a boyfriend) echo Scottoline’s choices. The Harvard grad obviously has chops—she just needs a little seasoning.

Despite the pair’s obvious mutual love and admiration, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies never lapses into schmaltz. Quite the opposite. You’re not getting any giving-birth-is-a-miracle musings from Scottoline. “Childbirth is not beautiful,” she writes. “Children are beautiful. Childbirth is disgusting. Anyone who says otherwise has never met a placenta. I’m surprised ob-gyns don’t have post-traumatic stress from seeing a few of those a day.”

What you will get, though, are sweet, funny, clear-eyed observations on the pleasures and pitfalls of family.

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Best Friends, Occasional Enemies

Best Friends, Occasional Enemies

By Francesca Serritella & Lisa Scottoline
St. Martin's
ISBN 9780312651633

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