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Sound bites rather than substance from a reporter known for her insightful political analyses on National Public Radio and ABC-TV. NPR fans know veteran journalist Roberts as one third of the female triumvirate (Nina Totenberg and Linda Wertheimer complete the triangle) that has long ruled public-radio airwaves, breaking stories and delving deep into substantive issues. Roberts claims to want to do the same here. As a woman in her mid-50s, she has lived through many of the changes created by the women’s movement. This book is meant to offer perspective on the ways in which women’s lives have changed so radically by telling stories about the roles women play. Unfortunately, the analysis is as slim as the book itself. Roberts sets her rather general tone by dividing the book into the generic roles women may play, beginning with sister and moving through politician—her mother was noted congresswoman Lindy Boggs—mechanic first class, friend, wife, and mother/daughter, among others. Some stories are historical or biographical in nature, such as the chapter that examines the life of consumer advocate Esther Peterson. Others are more personal in nature, such as Roberts’s musings on her sister, Barbara, who died not long ago after a bout with cancer. None are particularly pithy. In the section on the trials of juggling a career with her reporter husband, Steven, for instance, Roberts glosses over huge issues, such as finding day care or babysitting help in an era where few women worked outside the home. “We’ve had many a ‘heated discussion,’ as the politicians say, over the appropriate allocation of each other’s time between work and family,” she writes in the chapter called “Wife.” This is the historical reference for today’s working mothers? A surprisingly shallow endeavor from someone who should know better.

Pub Date: May 6th, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-15198-1
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998