Books Are Pretty

Friday, November 03, 2006

24-Karat Kids.

Oooooooh, check out this cover, will you? Bright shiny red with flashy gold cursive. Retro-chic ladies on the cover that look like they waltzed off the credits of some Rock Hudson-Doris Day movie. So light! So airy! So Nouveau York! This cover tells you exactly what kind of book this is going to be and exactly how you're going to feel while reading it.

This kind of flawless presentation can only mean one thing: Olga Grlic is in the house.

She designed the other cover that I adored, the What Do You Do All Day cover that I loved so much more than I loved the book itself. And again, thanks to Grlic, the outside has outshown the inside. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I don't care. I'm starting an Olga Grlic fan club. A fan club of one, maybe, but a fan club nonetheless, and I will sit here in my chair and wave my giant foam finger until Grlic gets the respect she deserves.

So what does Ms. Grlic teach us about 24-Karat Kids? What expectations does she give us?

From the cover, one would think it is light. It is gossipy. It has a female protagonist, most likely a fashionable young New York pediatrician with wealthy clientele. It promises to spill the beans on New York's elite Mommies, and you'll have a front row seat.

And that is exactly, exactly what you get.

Dr. Shelley Green is a New York pediatrician who is just setting up practice at Madison Pediatrics, the upper-East side clinic with super rich clientele. She has a fabulous new job, she's losing weight, she's shopping, she's thinking of ditching her reliable, but slightly stodgy fiance for an Old Money hottie, and best of all, she's got dozens of stories to tell about the hypercompetitive world of the Upper East side mommies.

Although the book promises to be an insider's scathing look into the world of the New York elite, a la The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries, 24-Karat Kids has a much softer, less cruel approach to its subjects, perhaps because author Dr. Judy Goldstein is a pediatrician still in practice on the Upper East side, and she's learned from the mistakes of Truman Capote, or she and co-author Sebastian Stuart have a little age and wisdom under their belts, and can tell all without hurting anybody's feelings. Goldstein and Stuart write about parents who hire a math tutor for their 8-month old, parents who want to run a battery of tests on their 14-year-old son when they catch him eating a Big Mac, and a very sick little girl with a recently deceased mother, whose high-power Daddy will not take time off work to take his girl to the doctor, and they manage to do it all without sounding overly judgemental or cruel. Between the stories, Dr. Green shops, loses weight, and goes a little boy crazy. Before the middle of the book, you can already predict exactly how all the plot points are going to resolve themselves - and you'll be right. There isn't a single surprise in the book, not one errant idea that leaps out and startles the reader.

But that's okay, if you feel like enjoying a book but are too tired to give it your full concentration. Goldstein and Stuart have created a piece of air-popped popcorn, something to snack on and enjoy without actually filling yourself up.


24-Karat Kids
by Dr. Judy Goldstein and Sebastian Stuart
June, 2006 by St. Martin's Press
Hardcover, 292 pp.
ISBN: 0-312-34327-2

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