Just Like Family: Inside the Lives of Nannies, the Parents They Work For, and the Children They Love
Six months as a nanny left then-MFA student Blaine with a newfound respect for the in-home childcare worker and a book idea; after five years of research, she's produced a fascinating, intimate portrait of three nannies selflessly devoted to raising (and loving) other people's children. In a single, confident narrative, Blaine introduces Claire, worried that she'll soon be out of a job, and considering the first real steps toward her dream of becoming a nurse; Vivian, a former Nanny of the Year Award winner, who transforms chaos into ""a methodical process in which every problem is anticipated, dealt with, and consistently managed""; and divorcee Kim, who finds the career helps fulfill her lifelong aspiration to be a mother. Like parenthood, nannyhood is not for the faint of heart or those without hefty reserves of self-esteem: besides comments like ""nobody smart wants to be a nanny,"" the narrative includes plenty of situations in which nannies attempt to help in family decisions, only to be rebuffed. Blaine doesn't draw any conclusions or force any confrontations, a la Barbara Ehrenreich, focusing on the emotional weight of her subjects' work. This gentler tone allows for a subtle, complex portrait of the nanny-family relationship, but those with a strong justice reflex may feel frustrated.