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I Don't Know How She Does it (Movie Tie-in Edition) [Paperback]

Allison Pearson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 9 2011 Vintage Contemporaries
Now a Major Motion Picture

Delightfully smart and heartbreakingly poignant, Allison Pearson’s smash debut novel has exploded onto bestseller lists as “The national anthem for working mothers.” Hedge-fund manager, wife, and mother of two, Kate Reddy manages to juggle nine currencies in five time zones and keep in step with the Teletubbies. But when she finds herself awake at 1:37 a.m. in a panic over the need to produce a homemade pie for her daughter’s school, she has to admit her life has become unrecognizable. With panache, wisdom, and uproarious wit, I Don’t Know How She Does It brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of every working mom.

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From Amazon

Allison Pearson's debut novel, I Don't Know How She Does It, is a rare and beautiful hybrid: a devastatingly funny novel that's also a compelling fictional world. You want to climb inside this book and inhabit it. However, you might find it pretty messy once you're in there. Narrator Kate Reddy is the manager of a hedge fund and mother of two small children. The book opens with an emblematic scene as Kate "distresses" a store-bought mince pie to make it appear homemade. Her days are measured in increments of minutes and even seconds; her fund stays organized but her house and family are falling apart. The book is a pearly string of great lines. Here's Kate on lack of sleep: "They're right to call it a broken night.... You crawl back to bed and you lie there trying to do the jigsaw of sleep with half the pieces missing." On baby boys: "A mother of a one-year-old son is a movie star in a world without critics." On subtle office dynamics:
The women in the offices of EMF [Kate's firm] don't tend to display pictures of their kids. The higher they go up the ladder, the fewer the photographs. If a man has pictures of kids on his desk, it enhances his humanity; if a woman has them it decreases hers. Why? Because he's not supposed to be home with the children; she is.
There's inherent drama here: Kate is wildly appealing, and we want things to work out for her. In the end, the book isn't a just collection of clever lines on the theme of working motherhood; it's a real, rich novel about a character we come to cherish. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This scintillating first novel has already taken its author's native England by storm, and in the tradition of Bridget Jones, to which it is likely to be compared, will almost certainly do the same here. The Bridget comparison has only limited validity, however: both books have a winning female protagonist speaking in a diary-like first person, and both have quirkily formulaic chapter endings. But Kate is notably brighter, wittier and capable of infinitely deeper shadings of feeling than the flighty Bridget, and her book cuts deeper. She is the mother of a five-year-old girl and a year-old boy, living in a trendy North London house with her lower-earning architect husband, and is a star at her work in an aggressive City of London brokerage firm. She is intoxicated by her jet-setting, high-profile job, but also is desperately aware of what it takes out of her life as a mother and wife, and scrutinizes, with high intelligence and humor, just how far women have really come in the work world. If that makes the book sound polemical, it is anything but. It is delightfully fast moving and breathlessly readable, with dozens of laugh-aloud moments and many tenderly touching ones-and, for once in a book of this kind, there are some admirable men as well as plenty of bounders. Toward the end-to which a reader is reluctant to come-it becomes a little plot-bound, and everything is rounded off a shade too neatly. But as a hilarious and sometimes poignant update on contemporary women in the workplace, it's the book to beat.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A Turning the Pages Review Feb. 14 2012
You may also read my review here: [...]....

Being a working mom, I immediately thought that this book would appeal to me... but it seemed to miss the mark at just about every turn.

Kate, the main bread-winner in her family, works an obscene amount of hours, leaving the house before her kids have eaten breakfast and not getting home until after they are asleep. All day she agonizes over her work-life balance yet never seems to do anything to adjust it. Constantly pulled away from the home on business trips to other countries, Kate seems to have chosen her work-life over her home-life, to the point that she fantasizes about having an affair with an American client.

Have you ever heard the saying "You can't have your cake and eat it too"? That is how I felt about Kate... you can't expect to have kids and NOT give up some part of your life. Having obviously chosen her career over her family, it drove me crazy when Kate suddenly has an epiphany, when her kids are 6-years-old and 2-years-old, that she is throwing away her life with her children. It takes her husband leaving, her nanny falling ill and her assistant becoming the office 'joke' before she puts her life priorities straight. Immediately my thought was, "Really?!?! You wasted SIX YEARS of your relationship with your daughter and NOW you decide to be a 'Mom'"... Ugg.

Overall, this book was too unrealistic for me. It could be that my feelings on the whole work vs. family thing are a little too strong, but, as a mother, you will ALWAYS put your children first... ALWAYS!!
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3.0 out of 5 stars 3 stars- I don't know how she does it Sept. 13 2011
By sc77
I found this book to be humorous in some parts but it wasn't enough to really engage me in the story. I appreciated the over all theme of this novel but found the writing itself to be unclear and the sentence fragments extremely distracting while trying to read forward. Overall, it moved too slow for my taste but this book wasn't awful either. I'd still recommend it.
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This is a very well written book that as a borderline middle age women I can wholly relate to every experience the main character go through, for every working mother or step mother this is life. Allison Pearson brings to life the everyday mundane and not so mundane rat race of child care, overworking hour's guilt, extended family issues, financial worries, discrimination and sexual frustration that every working mom deals with day in and day out.

Allison Pearson has covered all bases here, Kate, like so many career oriented women are spread so thin across the board that I defy any woman to read this and not relate to at least five issues Kate deals with. It brought some humor to my life and made me realize what is really important. I personally laughed more than a dozen times as Kate pounds her way through life's daily problems. She tries to find an solution for every problem, although sometimes the answers are unorthodox, there is always a tiny bit of silver lining peeking out of the cloud to be grabbed.

As Kate tries to find the delicate balance of a career in high finance, motherhood, friend and wife. She shows not only to herself what is really important to her but what really is important in life. Kate discovers through all her mishaps that staying on top off all the so called priority lists are not such a high priority after all. Keeping up with the neighbors and having an air of complete organization is harder in life than on paper, as she makes lists of things to be done and never really crossing anything off the list in the end she concludes that she really just needs to reassess her lifestyle that she tried to live and live the lifestyle that she can live.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Feb. 3 2005
My short list of recommendations of new literature is rather predictable: "My Fractured Life" (RENT-generation book of hope, glory and despair as a modern version of "Catcher in the Rye"); "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" (uplifting modern version of "It's a Wonderful Life"); "The Secret Life of Bees" (an uplifting story of racial equality and spiritual healing of a young girl coming of age in the South); and "The Lovely Bones" (life observed from the view of a girl who has been murdered). Right on the cusp though is this more nontraditional book, "I Don't Know How She Does It". "I Don't Know How She Does It" makes a strong statement and in a beautiful voice. It is both funny and sincere, much like the quick wit of "My Fractured Life". It may be an untraditional choice for a must read recommendation, but it sincerely ranks along side the other outstanding ones.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I Just Didn't Like Her July 18 2004
Yes, the book is humorous. Yes, the writing is, for the most part, intelligent. But Kate Reddy is just plain impossible to love (or even like). She is whiny, selfish, critical, and prone to martyrdom. I expected the heroine to be one I related to. Instead, I just wanted to slap her.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read July 11 2004
By Jill
I expected this to be a comical romp, instead I found a wonderful novel that made my heart ache with compassion and understanding. Of course, there were laugh-out-loud moments, but interwoven was a very true thing. Those reviewers who just didn't get it, have simply never known the joys and pains of motherhood and how they swirl about in a career world. Having worked full-time as an executive with baby #1, and then on to full-time mom for baby #2, I've seen both sides of the coin and Ms. Pearce nails it, perhaps at times in a caricature kind of way, but nonetheless heartbreakingly with truth. This is a book I will recommend to other moms, but would not recommend to a man...because I just don't know how he would get it.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Not even done yet and still one of the best reads out there!
This book is truly one of the funniest tales of a working mom yet...albeit to the "n-th degree", Kate Reddy sums up the ambition, guilt, passivity, aggression, levelheadedness, and... Read more
Published on July 6 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The question burning on every young woman's mind...
Until I read this book, I never questioned that I wouldn't be able to juggle a family with a career. Read more
Published on July 4 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughed Out Loud
This book made me laugh out loud and cry real tears because I actually saw myself now and ten years from now. Read more
Published on June 28 2004 by nicole young
5.0 out of 5 stars Plenty beneath the surface here
Superficially, this book is a testament to the heroic efforts of working mothers, struggling to maintain a career in a patriarchal society, while simultaneously living up to the... Read more
Published on June 27 2004 by Ken
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't wait to see what Kate does next!
This book is a guaranteed laugh for any mother out there -- whether she is a stay-at-home mom or a work-outside-the-home mom who then works-at-home when she gets back home! Read more
Published on June 23 2004 by "epmom3"
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, sad at times, with a flawed heroine
I was expecting Bridget Jones with kids, but this book turned out to be much more than that. It's the first novel I've read that deals honestly with the impossibility of being... Read more
Published on June 21 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Last time I read a book recommended by Oprah
I respect and enjoy Oprah but I continually am disappointed in her book picks. I guess we are on different pages so to speak as far as literature is concerned. Read more
Published on June 14 2004
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