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November 28, 2012

Juliette Fay on Giving Her Daughter a Mom Book

Posted by tom

Juliette Fay is the author of three novels: SHELTER ME, DEEP DOWN TRUE and THE SHORTEST WAY HOME (all of which were Bets On selections). Here, Juliette talks about the book she gave to her daughter several Christmases ago and why it turned out to be the perfect gift to have given her, despite it being a “mom book.”


"What's your favorite book that I ever gave you?" I asked my 19-year-old daughter.

She responded without hesitation. "THE BOOK THIEF. It's the best book I've ever read."

My daughter routinely announces that this or that book is the best book she's ever read. At 13 it was TWILIGHT, and she badgered me to read it, too. (I'm sure many book groups could be filled by moms and the books their kids made them read. And who couldn't make room for the occasional lovelorn vampire from time to time?)

At 16 it was THE HUNGER GAMES, and she leaned hard on me to read it. But though I'd heard many wonderful reviews, one aspect stopped me cold. It was a mom thing. 

"I can't," I told her. "It's about kids pitted against each other to the death. You know I can't handle stuff like that."

"It's not about that."

"Are kids pitted against each other to the death?"

"Yes, but there's a lot more to it."

"I'm sure there is, but sorry, no can do."

When she named THE BOOK THIEF as her current favorite, I was surprised; it was a book I'd given her several Christmases ago. "Didn't I give that to you a long time ago?"

 "I only read it last year," she explained.

"Why didn't you read it when I gave it to you?"

"I don't know…it seemed like a mom book."

A Mom Book: A book your mom gives you, immediately identifying it as painfully well-written, probably educational, and definitely devoid of vampires and kids trying to kill each other. 

Apparently in the two years between my giving her THE BOOK THIEF and her actual reading of it, the Mom Varnish had worn off. She told me, "I liked it because it's an alternative format --- he writes it from the perspective of Death, as though Death were a person -- and especially during The Holocaust, it's a really interesting point of view."

"Sounds fascinating. I'll put it on my list."

"Great," she said, then added, "Thanks for giving it to me."

I tried not to smile smugly. That's such a mom thing to do.