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The Nanny Diaries
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that teens may want to read this book because of the 2007 movie starring Scarlett Johansson. The movie is rated PG-13, but the book is better for older teens and young adults. Nanny drinks alcohol, uses profanity, and has a sexual relationship with a college-age boyfriend; she also develops a close bond to a 4-year-old boy and treats him with kindness, responsiveness, and love. A very materialistic culture is on display, and younger readers probably won't catch the satire.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
An NYU student in her senior year takes part-time job as Nanny for a 4-year-old boy in the Upper East side of Manhattan. She develops a strong, caring relationship with the boy and becomes quite concerned about the lack of relationship that exists between the boy and his parents. Her job includes picking him up at school, toting him to extracurricular activities, and becoming a personal assistant for the mother. She also meets a Harvard boy in the building and starts a relationship.
Come the end of spring, a timing conflict ensues with her graduation and a family vacation. She must advocate for herself and continue to be the only stable adult in the boy's life, yet her integrity is in question.
Is it any good?
Authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, both former Manhattan nannies themselves, must have had a cathartic experience and a few good belly laughs writing Nanny's story. To pay for college, Nanny takes a "part-time" Nanny gig, and thus sells her soul to an Upper East Side 40-something mother who wears her child like he's the latest accessory. In the meantime, Nanny is the only stable adult in the kid's life.
The discovery of an affair makes the guilty, overworked, gruff father even more absent and the wife (who met her husband as the mistress in his first marriage) scheming to trap him with another baby. NANNY DIARIES is quick, engrossing read, not only because of Nanny's humorous, and at times sad, ups and downs in her job, but as a glimpse at the just-as-messy way the other half lives.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the entitlement issues demonstrated by Mrs. X. Does Nanny advocate for herself? How could she have changed her work situation sooner? How does the high turnover in this nanny position affect this boy's development? Parents can point out the diverse backgrounds of the childcare workers Nanny meets. Why do you think these intelligent, educated women have chosen childcare as a profession?