Thursday, February 3, 2011
Book Review: Prudent Advice by Jaime Morrison Curtis
As one of those people who never wins anything, ever (not even team sports; I think I might carry a curse) I was surprised and absolutely thrilled when I won this book in a giveaway on Curtis' Prudent Baby blog. Although my reach may not extend all that far into the realms of internet book reviews, I thought I'd share my feelings about this delightful little book.
Prudent Advice contains five hundred short but poignant points collected by Curtis for her own daughter. Some are light and humorous, some are purely practical, and some are powerful, wise, and immensely stirring. All together they teach that both practicality and magic are integral to a good life. If you've spoken to me much in person, you will know that I absolutely can't stand empty sentimentality and cheap emotional manipulation. Cute quotes and words of wisdom, particularly in the form of vinyl wall decals, turn my stomach. When I say Prudent Advice is charming, powerful, and tenderhearted, understand that those are not compliments I bestow easily, or often. I am a grouchy, jaded cynic, and yet I often found myself deeply moved as I read. Curtis' advice is wise in itself, but her writing, which sometimes verges on poetic, has a lighthearted earnest quality to it that is extremely endearing.
As a feminist I often find myself wary of books that claim to be 'life lists' for women. They often read like articles in Cosmo - vapid, stereotype ridden, consumerist drivel. The majority of Prudent Advice, though targeted specifically at mothers and daughters, is universal. Recurring themes of kindness, acceptance, engagement with the greater community, self reliance, integrity, and good manners apply to women and men, young and old. As I read I felt a desire to improve myself, my community, my country and my planet. Certainly Curtis suggests that a person should strive to be classy, well mannered, and polite, but there is no hint of "little girls should act like ladies." Instead her advice suggests a person should be self aware and try to be cognizant of the feelings and needs of the people around her.
Curtis autographed the book for my daughter, who just passed her first birthday. I look forward to giving it to her, and I hope that she will take from it the same message I did - that she is of infinite worth and that her potential is great. Her choices are her own, as are her responsibilities. She is deeply cared for. Perhaps most importantly, that these grand statements apply to everyone else in equal measure.
This book would be a great present for any new mother, and an excellent baby shower gift. I also think it would be a really meaningful gift for your daughter or granddaughter, especially if she's not a baby any more. Pre-teens could take a great deal of useful advice from this book.
Thanks for the book Jaime, I'm tremendously fond of it.