Book in a nutshell:
From the very beginning - the title- the author acknowledges that she’s addicted to TV. And no wonder. At one point, when writing about her fussy son, she tells of calling her mother for advice. “Give him phenobarbital,” her mother says. When the author refuses, her mother suggests giving the baby beer instead.
Clearly, this is not a pedantic tome from some think tank of a mother who enjoys reading Ibsen in Norwegian. Currey-Wilson is addicted to TV in the same way her brother was addicted to drugs before going to jail. You know how sometimes a cable channel will run, for instance, a Mary Tyler Moore marathon? She would watch the whole thing.
But she didn’t want her son raised with that kind of addiction, so she goes to sometimes absurd lengths to be able to watch TV herself while not allowing the boy even a glimmer of the dreaded tube.
While the book’s structure is straightforward, it has an excellent dramatic arc, culminating in a psychological evaluation of the boy. The point at which the psychologist walks into the room to deliver the report is so riveting that telling you more would give away too much of the “plot.” The writing and story combine to make the meeting feel like the scene in a Grisham novel when the jury walks into the courtroom to deliver the verdict.
This is a funny, personal story that will resonate with any parent. It also makes valid points about the quality of TV, and the degree to which even “enlightened,” caring parents let it bathe their children in nonstop corporate images.
The book starts off with a bit of eye-roll-inducing stereotypical conversations over coffee and in trendy food stores in the Pacific Northwest. Zoom past that.
This is an awesome book-club book, especially for mothers who are worried about doing the right thing. At one point, the author tells of using colored highlighters to delineate which mothers are in a clique, which ones might be and which ones aren’t - all in an effort to make sure her son “fits in” at school. It might make you cringe, but it will inspire not only laughter but other stories of the obsessive-compulsive tendencies that come so naturally to otherwise mellow mothers.
Scott C. Yates, 20 April 2007