||May 25, 2012
Advice and stories shared with a newborn niece by her absent aunt.
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Ride It Like A Lady
Ride It Like A Lady
Entertaining strangers and riding motorcycles, fast boys and finding religion. These are among the topics shared by a vagabond aunt with a niece she fears she may never have a chance to influence except through a series of letters.
Enclosed are those twelve sometimes darkly funny, always personal notes addressed to the author's newly born niece, Emi. In them, she outlines the trials she foresees her facing and offers advice for making sense of the often patriarchal, always demanding societies in which they arise.
Through the correspondence we also meet the author, a woman who has worked and played around the world, yet, growing up, was more comfortable with food fights than with the spoken word. Interspersed among the letters are snapshots of her observations from abroad.
In the background are the familial matriarchs fighting to define themselves, and one in particular who cries out to the next generation that she is not alone. Eventually, the author comes to realize there are issues she herself must still face and that her niece plays a role in that.
“Mom!” I cried into the phone. “Charlie…He’s, he’s…” My chest was heaving so hard it was hard to get enough air to speak. “He’s dating someone else! Right now!”
I’d dropped by Charlie’s college dorm room, only to find it set up for a romantic dinner. For someone else. There was the square table in the middle of the floor, the small vase of white flowers, the stir-fry simmering in his wok—all exactly how he’d set it up only weeks earlier for me. The idea he was my boyfriend was an illusion (that Charlie hadn’t encouraged; I’d come to that conclusion on my own). Several other related ideas were shattered at the same time. My mother and I weren’t close, but I couldn’t think of anyone else to call.
And my mother heard me. She offered no advice and didn’t chastise me. “I’m so sorry, sweetie.” There will be other boys, I’m sure she told me. I’m sure I told her that wasn’t the point. I thought I had one now. She listened to me patiently break down until I had no more energy, and then we hung up. I’ve always been grateful for that phone call.
Why is it that we are our most gullible, most vulnerable, with the opposite sex? It’s an important relationship to build, so it seems that something in our DNA should make it easier to find a romantic match so the species survives. Yet in this belief we are trusting not ourselves, a thing, or even another person, but a concept: that love conquers all. Most of us have a whole list of things that need to be conquered once someone—anyone—with answers makes us feel a little less powerless. Perhaps that’s why in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair, Rene Russo tells Pierce Brosnan, “Men make women messy.”
That remains one of my all-time favorite movie quotes. Truer words were never spoken. It was Rene’s response to Pierce, when he asked her why she never keeps any of her romantic partners around for long.
Breath of Fresh Air in Literary World
This book is wonderfully witty, insightful and funny. It was one of those books I just couldn’t stop reading. With every chapter was a new story, yet every story was delicately weaved together. I even read the recipe chapter twice, I liked it so much! The idea behind the story is a breath of fresh air in the literary world. Congrats! Dear J. Kristen, PLEASE WRITE MORE BOOKS! Thanks Cat
Engaging, Honest and Often Poignant
Ride It Like A Lady “is well written and a pleasure to read. … An engaging compilation of letters about various topics, written by an aunt for her niece but relevant for any woman who is interested in a point of view different from her own. …
“The book is organized well around main topics, and the letters interspersed with postcards makes it interesting reading. … The book’s goal is to share insight, and I felt it did that in the context of experience. It was told in an engaging, honest, and often poignant way and is not melodramatic or preachy. … The result is that it feels like talking to a person and not talking at them. …
“The writing is honest and engaging. … As the mother of a daughter, I always felt that an aunt could bring so many positive insights to my daughter’s life, and I see that reflected [in Ride It Like A Lady].”
– First professional review of Ride It Like A Lady
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