Southwest Community Connection

In a quirky, funny, beguiling account, Ellen Currey-Wilson has chronicled her struggle to break her pathological TV addiction to protect her son from the same video plague. As someone immersed in the ever-growing media literacy movement, I’ve read just about every book on the perils of screen addiction. Alas, they have all been humorless, though interesting, tomes — until Ellen’s brand-new novelistic, biographical romp about escaping TV’s “vast wasteland.”

Set in Hillsdale, the book serves up characters that are us, sort of. Ellen has some fine print boiler plate right above the ISBN number that cautions: “To protect the privacy of people mentioned in this book, characters have been combined and situations disguised, and certain names, places and other identifying characteristics have been changed.”

So you aren’t supposed to be able to identify the characters you meet by name, but they sure do seem familiar. A couple years ago I got Ellen involved in forming a group of moms who were (and still are) trying to get a handle on the myriad screens in their kids’ lives. And sure enough, some facsimile of me, or at least my invitation to Ellen, is on the closing pages.

Ellen’s morphing of people and events gives her generous license to reveal the mad and maddening dynamics of trying to raise children in a media-saturated world.

If I had to guess, women, particularly young moms, are going to devour this book. I’m drawn into it for two reasons. First, “The Big Turnoff” is a hilarious, wry take on a deadly serious problem. Second, as a dad who, to this day, regrets not getting a handle on screen time with my now-adult child, I admire Ellen’s courage in fighting off Game Boys and Xboxes.

Rick Seifert, 30 March 2007

Back to Reviews