She has a great job and an even greater sense of humor. In Laura Zigman's follow-up to her hilarious ANIMAL HUSBANDRY, the material of love between the sexes and the outcome of this love is examined by way of babies. When Ellen Franck, the 35-year-old P. R. rep for a well-known clothing designer, meets her niece, "the Pickle," for the first time, she realizes that the only thing lacking in her life is a "pickle" of her own. And off she goes, into the strange and awesome territory of motherhood.
Single girls wanting babies is all the rage in American pop culture now. Thanks to unwed mothers like Madonna, adoptive moms like Rosie O'Donnell, or wannabe moms like everybody I seem to know, maternity doesn't have to go hand in hand with marriage. But, if you want the baby, you must find the sperm to make one, and that sets Ellen off on an interesting journey that leads to her almost DATING BIG BIRD.
Within the first 50 pages, we meet Ellen's sister and the Pickle and her dad; and Ellen's every word, her every heartfelt outpouring of love brings tears to our eyes. The whole idea of Big Bird as the perfect dad --- warm, friendly, great with kids --- is great, very original. Ellen is clearly ready to be a mom in some respects, sharing quiet moments with her niece, showing a willingness to understand every feeling the little girl could have that the child can barely articulate herself. However, when it comes to the part about the man, Ellen is in love with a troubled Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose life unraveled when his young son died of leukemia at the age of seven. His marriage crumbled soon after, then his career, and he has declared that he will never have children again. The complications of loving someone who doesn't see in his life something that you see so clearly in yours leads Ellen to make some tough decisions. Her journey from sperm donor ads to Mommy groups is heart wrenching and true-to-life.
Zigman's first book, ANIMAL HUSBANDRY, mined the general goings-on of young urban professionals as they hesitantly made their way through the complex machinery of love and sex and relationships. DATING BIG BIRD takes the process a step forward. And now that Zigman in real life is expecting a child with a longtime boyfriend, it is my hope that her next book takes the process even further. As a young married professional with hopes of children in the near future, I found that DATING BIG BIRD had me tearing up at the same time I laughed along with Ellen's exploits. Zigman's ability to combine the complicated emotions and situations that come from loving another person, regardless of whether it's a lover, friend, or a precious, precious niece, makes DATING BIG BIRD a hilariously human and touching work.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 21, 2011
Dating Big Bird