Nonfiction, What Shannon Read

Just Like Family: Inside the Lives of Nannies, the Parents They Work for, and the Children They Love

1The title of this book sounds so dramatic. And, honestly, it was fairly dramatic.

Just Like Family follows the lives of three very different nannies who work for very different families. Claudia, who’s from Dominica, a Caribbean island, looks after two kids in NYC, while supporting her own daughter and a son she left behind. Vivian is a young, white woman from Boston who nannies for twin boys in Massachusetts. Newly divorced Kim nannies in Texas where she’s just moved in with a couple expecting their first baby.

If you’re interested in the sometimes bizarre inner workings of families and their nannies, or just need a good feather ruffling, give this one a try. It definitely set off my outrage meter in a number of ways. I thought, one, that the parents/employers were often clueless and even neglectful of the nannies. Plus, I sometimes forget that there are people in the world that are that rich. The description of the lifestyle of the family Claudia works for kinda’ blew my mind.

On the other hand, there are touching moments between the nannies and kids and even between boss and employee. For instance, Betsy, Claudia’s boss, encourages Claudia’s dream of becoming a nurse. And she helps Claudia out of a financial jam when she’s about to be evicted (though she later wonders why Claudia doesn’t seem more grateful).

Vivian is a fascinating study. A “professional” nanny, she gets paid on the books, so to speak, and is on the board of the national nanny organization. She spends her small amount of off-time writing articles for the organization’s publications and is heavily involved in activism to regulate the nanny industry. Her forthright personality tooootally turned me off and her style definitely wouldn’t fly with me. But, then, I’m more likely to be a nanny than hire a nanny, so what do I know?

Anyway, if you liked The Nanny Diaries or just like prying into other people’s lives, this is an interesting read.


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