CALLIE’S TALLY by Betsy Howie


An Accounting of Baby’s First Year (or: What My Daughter Owes Me)
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With the recent spate of books by primiparas on the joys and conflicts of motherhood, a new one needs a gimmick and this one has it: a brittle, comic, and sporadically insightful month-by-month record of how much baby is costing.

Novelist Howie (Snow, 1998), nearing 40 and with the father of her baby already 57, begins by asking some pertinent questions about her physical, psychological, emotional, and financial ability to bear and raise a child. The financial question is the only one she can get a grip on, and she sets up Callie's tally early in her pregnancy, including the pregnancy test ($25), amniocentesis ($81), and “fat clothes” ($411.11). Callie's debt includes a top-of-the-line McLaren stroller ($230) and a $90 car seat. It also encompasses vitamin pills for mother and baby and legal fees for setting up a will to protect Callie in case of her parents' deaths. It does not include banking the stem-cord cells that may benefit others in her family. Added in are church offerings at $5/week (the author is not religious, but she feels it's important for the baby). Callie is also charged meeting fees for her mother's Weight Watchers regimen (a part-time actress, Howie rationalizes that her post-pregnancy weight gain and subsequent lack of jobs is Callie's responsibility). More than just a spreadsheet, the financial log is also used to raise issues confronting first-time mothers today, ranging from impulse shopping to teething to returning to work and pumping breast milk. She also hits some emotional hot spots with confessions of anger, envy, and “this buried-deep, ripping . . . fear” of losing Callie. Charges to Callie for her first year: $9,099.85.

Good-humored bottom-line account of the changes wrought when a successful and independent woman becomes a mother.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-58542-175-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: TarcherPerigee
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2002