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  • Momzillas
  • Written by Jill Kargman
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  • Momzillas
  • Written by Jill Kargman
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780767927307
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It's a jungle out there on Park Avenue, baby!

Written by Jill KargmanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Jill Kargman

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List Price: $9.99

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On Sale: April 10, 2007
Pages: 304 | ISBN: 978-0-7679-2730-7
Published by : Broadway Books Crown - Archetype
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Synopsis

A hilarious and deliciously scathing send-up of motherhood as practiced in the upper echelons of Manhattan society, from the coauthor of The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing.

The mothers on Manhattan’s chic Upper East Side are highly educated, extremely wealthy, and very competitive. They throw themselves and all of their energy and resources into full-time child rearing, turning their kids into the unwitting pawns in a game where success is measured in precocious achievements, jam-packed schedules, and elite private-school pedigrees.

Hannah Allen has recently moved to the neighborhood with her New York City–bred investment banker husband and their two-year-old daughter, Violet. She’s immediately inundated by an outpouring of advice from her not-so-well-intentioned new friends and her overbearing, socially conscious mother-in-law, who coach her on matters ranging from where to buy the must-have $300 baby dress to how to get into the only pre-pre-preschool that counts. Despite her better instincts and common sense, Hannah soon finds herself caught up in the competitive whirl of high-stakes mothering.

Excerpt

One


I am staring at the crystalline frozen tundra of ice–licked Alaska. Surrounded by an endless snowy desert, a little Eskimo girl pounds her way through the rushing, snowflake–laden wind as cheerful music plays.

Put on your kami–kluk to stay warm and dry…”

No, I didn’t board a flight to Juneau. I’m watching Sesame Street with my daughter, Violet. It’s one of Grover’s world–friendly segments where global cultures are profiled through the dewy, pure lens of a child’s eyes. We visit a Chinese boy who is a top acrobat and can spin fourteen plates on his face and a little Indonesian girl who can balance six bowls on the top of her head. While dancing.

Today Grover has transported us to the forty–ninth state—and our local lass is suiting up to face the Arctic chill, with the help of her mother, who sews fur pelts together to fashion a tikiyook, or coat, to repel the subzero temps. She rushes out into the crisp fresh air to meet other children, also clad in PETA’s worst nightmare, and skips off into the fluffy white mounds, laughing sweetly.

It all looks so wholesome, so simple, so uncomplicated. No fancy schools to get into, no apartments to compare. It looked pleasant there, out in the bleak but weirdly alluring slate of glistening frost punctuated only by playful tykes toting their homemade lunches to school in swinging buckets.

But then the bilious pit in my stomach reasserted itself, and I couldn’t help but think this awful, impure thought: I bet one of the moms is looking over the other kids’ kami–kluks to see if the stitching is better. Or if the book sack one mom made is as creatively patterned as another. I am certain one family’s igloo is grander, another’s dogsled more impressive.

I was watching this on my television, in my apartment, not set in a downy white backdrop, but rather in the lion’s den of competitive mommies: New York City’s Upper East Side. In California, where my husband, Josh, and I lived before the relocation plunge a month ago, the one orange Bugaboo stroller on our block was so strange and uncommon a sight, people thought aliens had delivered it via flying saucer. In New York, the Rolls Royce of strollers is as common as yellow cabs—and the streets are just as jammed with them, but instead of reeking of an overpowering air–freshener–and–curry combo, they smelled of Kiehl’s–scrubbed babies.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even want to walk up Madison Avenue; while my kid looks like Baby Old Navy exploded, I routinely bump into neighbors with children so perfectly preened in smocked dresses, rickrack–collared linen blouses, shiny Mary Janes with lace socks, and enormous bows in their styled hair. My mother–in–law gives us baby clothes that are marked Dry Clean Only. Unless they’re linen, in which case yours truly gets to crack out the ironing board. I just want to hide. Boy, am I living in a crazy place. Maybe I should call Air Alaska.

It all started when Josh got a call from Parker Elliott, his best friend from Harvard Business School. He knew Josh was sick of his job in San Francisco, dreading working the East Coast hours on the West Coast and getting up well before the ass–crack o’dawn. The bank that employed Parker was willing to make Josh an offer he couldn’t turn down, so suddenly our laid–back California world was history. I was getting my PhD in art history at Berkeley right before Violet was born, but bagged after the Master’s because a) of the impending stork arrival and b) I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do with a PhD. So when the call came for Josh, I was a perfectly transportable, abundantly educated, stay–at–home mom.

I grew up in rainy Seattle so the storm–whipped weather “back east” never cowed me like most California residents; in fact, even though I’m a born–and–bred West Coaster, I actually always felt more at home with the northeastern vibe—crisp autumns lazing indoors and avoiding the sun due to my ultra–pale, all–too–easily–burnable complexion. When I met Josh and we started dating, he told me straightaway that he wanted to move back to his native New York to raise a family one day. I was game; I just didn’t know that day would come so soon. I’d liked our shimmering, carefree San Francisco bubble, far from his socialite mom, cozy in our solitude between our close group of friends, our favorite haunts, and mellow routines. I always loved Manhattan when I visited every fall, but it was all a glistening October collage of Broadway shows, plush hotel rooms, designer sushi, and kissing in burgundy–leafed Central Park.

The transformation from romantic tourist to entrenched inhabitant was bumpier than I had anticipated. The offer and subsequent arrangements happened so quickly; it seemed that within days I was loading up boxes, boarding a plane, and moving into corporate housing, all before I could even get used to the thought of it.


The night we arrived, Josh ordered a Chinese feast, and after we tucked Violet into her Pack ‘n’ Play, we chowed take–out cartonloads of chow fun and General Tso’s chicken, by the flickering light of nonaromatherapy candles.

“Hannah?” he said, smiling over his chopsticks.

“Yes, sweets?”

“Thank you.”

He came over and hugged me and I blinked to release a lone tear, which he wiped away softly.

Suddenly here we were: away from our friends, my family, my coast—and planted in a new world of the elite, his mom and fancy prep school pals included. My tear flow increased.

“As if I don’t already have enough salt from this meal,” I laughed as he kissed me, wiping my cheeks.
“I’m already the fattest girl in this city and the MSG intake ain’t helping.”

“Shut up. You're beautiful.”

I looked at him gratefully and sighed.

“We’re going to be fine here,” he consoled, stroking my hair. “Better than fine. You will love New York, Han, I swear.”

Joshie has always wanted me to adore his hometown as much as he did, and he’s done everything he can to infuse me with his passion for it—from Woody Allen screenings in our den to museum binges when we visited, to excited samplings of his favorite foods (the perfect bagel, the best hot dog), and showing me the most sublime walks, to pointing out the most diverse, most intellectual, most kaleidoscopic array of eclectic, sometimes freakish citizens. He was a real die–hard, love–the–gray, eat–up–the–noise, relish–the–smell–of–streetcart–food New Yorker. Ever since I’d known him, Josh went back home every few months for his fixes, like a junkie filling up on the buzz and heat and lifeblood of the twelve–mile island he thought of as the center of the universe. He was so ecstatic to finally be back, and I was thrilled for him. But gone were the days of him rolling home at four thirty p.m., taking evening walks as a fam, and eating early dinners in our favorite holes in the wall. He had warned me that in this new job he couldn’t cut corners and would be pretty much swamped, handcuffed to the office at least for a while. And I’d be navigating the rough waters on my own. Waters teeming with sharks. Kelly–bag–toting, Chanel–suit–wearing, Bugaboo–pushing sharks.

“Bee is calling you on the cell tomorrow to meet up,” Josh said, trying to lift my spirits. “Parker said she wants to take you to some children’s clothes show or something. She’ll introduce you to all her friends.”

“Okay,” I said, exhaling and nodding. I wanted to be supportive to Josh. He had been so down at his old job and I had hated seeing him miserable. This was a chance at a fresh start for him, and I needed to match his enthusiasm. But just hearing the name Bee made me nervous.


From the Hardcover edition.
Jill Kargman

About Jill Kargman

Jill Kargman - Momzillas

Photo © Donna Newman

Jill Kargman, who grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and now lives there with her husband and two daughters, is the ideal chronicler of the lives of New York's ultra–rich and ultra–ambitious. She captures the mores, the conversations, and the back–stabbing with supreme ease, and creates in Hannah Allen a wonderfully sympathetic heroine. A wickedly funny and spot–on portrait of some decidedly over–the–top moms, Momzillas is the perfect follow–up to The Right Address.
Praise

Praise

Praise for The Right Address:

“It’s impossible to resist the charms of this modern Manhattan fairy tale.…What makes it all so enticing is watching those evil society stepsisters get their deliciously just deserts along the way.” —People

“Offers playful insight into a world…as catty as it is rarefied.” —Vogue


Praise for Wolves in Chic Clothing:

“A gossipy, Saturday-afternoon treat.” —Glamour

“For those who crave diamonds and Manolos with their fairy tales, this confection hits the spot.” —People
About the Book|Author Biography|Discussion Questions

About the Guide

Darkly comic clever, and wry, Momzillas navigates Manhattan’s Upper East Side scene of highly educated and extremely wealthy women who throw themselves and all of their resources into being full-time moms–to hilarious and frightening effect.

Hannah Allen has recently moved to the neighborhood with her New York City-bred investment banker husband and two-year-old daughter, Violet. She’s immediately inundated by an outpouring of advice from her not-so-well-intentioned new friends and her overbearing, socially conscious mother-in-law, who coach her on matters ranging from where to buy the must-have $300 baby dress to how to get into the only pre-pre-preschool that counts. Despite her better instincts and common sense, Hannah soon finds herself caught up in the competitive whirl of high-stakes mothering.

About the Author

Jill Kargman is the coauthor (along with Carrie Karasyov) of The Right Address and Wolves in Chic Clothing. She lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with her husband and three children.

Discussion Guides

1. Do you know any momzillas? Are they exclusive to the posher neighborhoods of New York City, or can they be found everywhere? What’s the difference between a mom and a momzilla? Talk about the momzillas you know. What’s the best way to handle them?

2. Do you think the characters in the book are based on real people? Or are they caricatures? What’s the most outrageous act of Momzillahood in the book?

3. Despite her better instincts and common sense, Hannah soon finds herself swept up in the competitive craziness of high-stakes motherhood. Why is it so easy for mothers to fall pray to fears that they’re not doing enough for their kids (are they in the right schools, are they in the right extracurricular activities, etc.)?

4. Are you a mother? How many momzilla-like traps have you fallen into? For example, what’s the most you’ve ever spent on an outfit for your toddler? What do you think of people who buy designer baby outfits and $1000 strollers? Why do you think they do this?

5. In the rarified world of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, what are the criteria for determining whether a woman is a “good mother”? What purpose does their competitive attitude serve? What does Hannah seem to think about the culture of American mommyhood?

6. In what way are parenting styles reflections of an adult’s overall outlook on life, as much as his or her concern for a child?

7. Discuss Hannah’s relationship with Lila, her mother-in-law. Why is this relationship–both in the novel and in real life–so fraught with tension? Is your own relationship with your in-laws a difficult one? If you had been in Hannah’s shoes, how would you have responded to Lila?


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