The Smartest Woman I Know

Ilene Beckerman. Algonquin, $16.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-56512-537-7
The good news for readers of Beckerman's tale of her grandmother Ettie's practical wisdom: Ettie's epigrams are packaged in a quick, amusing read, complete with quirky illustrations. The bad news? There's not enough of it. Continuing reminiscences of her life that started with the much-praised Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Beckerman turns her focus to her Goldberg grandparents. In 1929 they established a candy store on the Upper East Side that eventually expanded to become Madison Stationers. Ettie was comfortable talking with clientele as varied as Sara Delano Roosevelt or an Irish nanny. What did she have in common with them? They were mothers; therefore, they worried. Beckerman's scanty sketches, literally and figuratively, of the six years she lived with the Goldbergs lack in-depth exploration of Ettie, whose dicta are sometimes revealing, but often merely platitudes, such as "sometimes life is all about the song you sing." Nevertheless, Beckerman has rendered a service to those for whom their forebears' immigrant experiences are remote, while at the same time lovingly honoring her grandmother. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Open Ebook - 112 pages - 978-1-61620-117-3
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