Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Buy from

Rate this Book

Sonderbooks 106
    Previous Book
    Next Book

        Previous Book
        Next Book

Young AdultFiction
Children's Nonfiction
Children's Fiction
Picture Books

2005 Stand-outs
2004 Stand-outs
2003 Stand-outs
2002 Stand-outs
2001 Stand-outs

Five-Star Books
Four-Star Books
    Previous Book
    Next Book

Old Favorites
Back Issues
List of Reviews by Title
List of Reviews by Author

Why Read?
Children and Books
Links For Book Lovers
Book Discussion Forum

About Me
Contact Me
Make a Donation

I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**     = Enjoyable
*       = Good, with reservations


****You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again

The True Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny

by Suzanne Hansen

Reviewed April 24, 2006.
Crown Publishers, New York, 2005.  289 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (MCN 649.092  HAN).

It’s hard to imagine a chick-lit novel on this topic ending up as entertaining as these true adventures of a Hollywood nanny.  Suzanne came to Hollywood fresh out of small-town Oregon and a nanny training institute.  She got a job in the family of one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, the head of the agency used by all the big stars.

Besides getting to tell about the big stars she met and talked to on the phone (or that her friends fell down in front of), Suzy tells about the crazy life of these fabulously wealthy people.  They didn’t back her up when she tried to discipline their children, they rarely fed their own baby, and expected Suzy to get up with him in the night, effectively leaving her on call 24 hours a day.

They would lavish money on a European vacation, and then complain if their children talked too long on the phone.  They spent money hand over fist, then complained when Suzy bought a new iron instead of simply replacing the cord.

But don’t think that this book is full of criticism.  Suzanne Hansen makes it all funny by showing her exploitation as a lack of assertiveness on her own part.  The job probably wasn’t any fun to do, but it sure makes funny reading.  Of course, her friends back home were impressed by her Hawaii vacation, not realizing that she never got out of the hotel room with a sick baby and was expected to look after the friends’ children as well.

Suzy uses a pseudonym for the main family she worked with, with the father being the one who gave her the title of the book when she quit.  She then tells about some wonderful families, and feels free to name them, standing out from the Hollywood crowd.  Debra Winger spent so much time with her baby, they eventually decided she didn’t really need a nanny.

Next, Suzy went to Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito, and found them to be a wonderful, kind, and down-to-earth couple.  Eventually, she decided it was time to go to college and become a nurse, but I’m glad she closed off the book with heart-warming stories, not giving the impression that everyone in Hollywood was like that nightmare power couple, passing off the care of their spoiled children to others.

This book is funny as well as eye-opening.  Suzanne Hansen celebrates the people behind the scenes who run the household while the stars live glamorous lives.  I like her Author’s Note at the front of the book, where she says, “Often during media interviews, celebrity moms fail to mention—or barely mention—the help they have that makes their glamorous lives possible.  I don’t know whether I want to scream, laugh, or cry when they smile graciously, subtly implying that through their own super-human efforts they are able to pull off an Oscar-winning role and still drive the daily carpool.  Are they really talented enough to juggle the high-gloss career, the splendid home, and the busy family all by themselves?  How do they have time to work such long hours, undergo a marathon of social obligations, and chair the PTA fund-raiser?  Presumably, through superior multitasking genes!  The reality is, when a member of the Hollywood elite explains that ‘we have a normal life just like everyone else,’ there is a little more to the story:  they are not doing it all alone.  What they do have is one heck of a secret support system.”

And I like the way she ends the note off:  “Finally, I hope my misadventures in nannyhood will provide a little humor for all the mothers out there.  After all, if you only have five minutes to sit and read, it’s nice if you can laugh.  And just so you know, many of the embarrassing scenarios in which I found myself as a nanny have continued to crop up in my mothering life. But I can only suffer so much embarrassment in one book.”

Suzanne Hansen achieves her hopes.  Definitely a smile-bringer.

Copyright © 2006 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

-top of page-