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You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again: The True Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny

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Overview

New and completely updated edition

Hilarious and addictive, this chronicle of a small-town girl’s stint as a celebrity nanny reveals what really happens in the diaper trenches of Hollywood.

When Oregon native Suzanne Hansen becomes a live-in nanny to the children of Hollywood über-agent Michael Ovitz, she thinks she’s found the job of her dreams. But Hansen’s behind-the-scenes access soon gets her much more than she bargained for: working ...

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You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again: The True Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny

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Overview

New and completely updated edition

Hilarious and addictive, this chronicle of a small-town girl’s stint as a celebrity nanny reveals what really happens in the diaper trenches of Hollywood.

When Oregon native Suzanne Hansen becomes a live-in nanny to the children of Hollywood über-agent Michael Ovitz, she thinks she’s found the job of her dreams. But Hansen’s behind-the-scenes access soon gets her much more than she bargained for: working twenty-four hours a day, juggling the shifting demands of the Hollywood elite, and struggling to comprehend wealth unimaginable to most Americans, not to mention dealing with the expected tantrums and the unexpected tense–and intense–atmosphere in the house where she lives with her employers.

When the thankless drudgery takes its toll and Hansen finally quits, her boss threatens to blackball her from ever nannying in Hollywood again. Discouraged but determined, Hansen manages to land gigs with Debra Winger and then Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. Attentive, welcoming parents with a relaxed attitude toward celebrity–looks like Hansen’s fallen into a real-life happy ending. But the round-the-clock workdays continue, rubbing some of the glitter off L.A. living, and Hansen’s not sure how much longer she can pretend to be Mary Poppins. Even bosses who treat her like family can’t help as she struggles to find meaning in her work while living in a town that seems to lack respect for nannies and everyone else who comes in the employee’s entrance–but without whom many showbiz households would grind to a halt.

Peppering her own journey with true stories and high drama experienced by other nannies to the stars, Hansen offers an intriguing, entertaining mix of tales from the cribs of the rich and famous. You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again is a treat for everyone who is fascinated by the skewed priorities of Tinseltown, for anyone who has wondered how high-wattage supermoms do it all, and for readers who love peeking behind the curtains of celebrity, all of whom will devour this unparalleled–and unabashedly true–account of one girl’s tour of duty as Hollywood’s hired help.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Filled with juicy little tidbits that will be enjoyed by anyone who loves to read about the bad behavior...of the rich and famous." —LA Times

"[A] story that Hansen tells with real comic energy, sparing no unlibelous detail." —Boston Globe

"After the publication of Hollywood nanny Suzanne Hansen's memoir, former employer and hardballing Uber-agent, Michael Ovitz might swear bitterly: You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again." —Vanity Fair, January 2006

"Think The Nanny Diaries, but juicier—and it's all true! Suzanne Hansen's tell-all book about her real-life adventures in Tinseltown babysitting (she was the nanny to the kids of super-scary super-agent Michael Ovitz) will have you howling with laughter—and rage." —Marie Claire magazine

"Veterans of the serving class ourselves, we thought we'd seen it all, but You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again offers an intriguing peek into the never-before-revealed family lives of Hollywood's elite. Hansen's memoir poignantly proves that truth can be more powerful than fiction." —Leanne Shear and Tracey Toomey, authors of The Perfect Manhattan

"A funny, absorbing true tale that will once again leave readers wondering why anyone would want to work in the insane asylum that is Hollywood." —Robin Lynn Williams, author of The Assistants

"Funny and engaging enough to be a novel, that You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again is true takes it to another level—a stunning exposé of our culture's impossible expectations of mothers." —Ariel Gore, author of The Hip Mama Survival Guide and The Mother Trip

"A jolly holiday with Mary it most certainly was not. At 18 years old, long before Nanny 911, Suzanne Hansen left the WiIlamette Valley of Cottage Grove to pair her au with late-'80s Hollywood excess... Hansen's just-released tell-all You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again chronicles her caregiving escapades with Debra Winger, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, and especially the Ovitz clan." —Portland Monthly magazine

“Veterans of the serving class ourselves, we thought we’d seen it all, but You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again offers an intriguing peek into the never-before-revealed family lives of Hollywood’s elite. Hansen’s memoir poignantly proves that truth can be more powerful than fiction.” —Leanne Shear and Tracey Toomey, authors of The Perfect Manhattan

“Just when you think you’ve heard everything about the behind-the-scenes world of celebrities, along comes You’ll Never Nanny in This Town Again, a humorous yet down-to-earth account of the vagaries of warped Hollywood parenting. Author Suzanne Hansen’s experiences as an L.A. nanny expose the absurd–and yet achingly funny–differences between the rich and famous and the rest of us.” —Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner, authors of Hollywood, Interrupted

“A funny, absorbing true tale that will once again leave readers wondering why anyone would want to work in the insane asylum that is Hollywood.” —Robin Lynn Williams, author of The Assistants

Publishers Weekly
Misadventures in nannyhood" is how Hansen, an Oregon teen who'd trained at the Northwest Nannies Institute, characterizes her amusing account of several years as live-in drudge to the stars. Readers of James B. Stewart's DisneyWar are already acquainted with her first employer, Michael Ovitz, then still the superagent commander of the CAA talent agency, and parent, with his wife, of three children. Hansen isn't a flippant writer; she doesn't try to score easy shots; and she cites her own inexperience and shyness, but it becomes increasingly clear through her account (backed up by the diary she kept) that the portraits drawn by other writers-of a cold, shrewd, controlling man-are accurate. Still, there was glamour, which at first made up for the grueling 24/7 workload and a curious chintziness. However, Hansen lasted just over six months. She later found work with the charming Debra Winger and left only because it became clear that the doting Winger didn't really need a full-time nanny. Her next and last nanny job was with the wonderful and thoughtful Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito and their three kids. Hardly backstabbing, this entertaining book possesses a sincerity other nannying tomes lack. Agent, Sharlene Martin. (On sale Dec. 27) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Hansen once worked as a 'round-the-clock, jack-of-all-trades nanny for Michael Ovitz, then finally quit for happier homes. Here's a diaper's-eye view of Hollywood celebrity. With a nine-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307237682
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/26/2006
  • Edition description: Reprinted Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 678,099
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Hansen has been a high-risk labor and delivery nurse, lactation consultant, and childbirth educator. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two children.

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Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money. —Abigail Van Buren

When my boss told me that we were all going to Hawaii for Thanksgiving vacation, I tried not to panic. I was nineteen years old, and my vacation experience up to that point pretty much consisted of ten-hour trips in my family’s cramped station wagon to visit my cousins in Canada. You’d think I would have been turning cartwheels down Sunset Boulevard. But as enticing as an all-expenses-paid stay at a posh Hawaiian beachfront resort would sound to most people, I was realistic enough—after almost a year of nannying for one of the most powerful families in Hollywood—to know that I’d be on duty for 192 hours straight. I had counted.

One hundred and ninety-two straight hours of running after three children under the age of seven, of sharing quarters a lot more cramped than the ten-thousand-square-foot home we normally occupied, where the air was already tense. Of no room to escape the kids or their parents for one minute.

This “vacation” sounded worse every time I thought about it. Good thing I didn’t know about the other five kids.

The night after I was informed of our upcoming adventure, I decided to be more positive. Come on, Suzy! You could never afford to travel to Hawaii on your own. This is a great opportunity to soak up some paradise. I tried not to think about our previous “vacations.” Surely this would have a whole different, relaxed, tropical vibe? I called my friend and fellow nanny Mandie to tell her my news. She listened intently while I borrowed scenes from postcards and spun my perfect vision of the eight-day trip.

“I’ll be basking on white-sugar beaches, with cute cabana boys constantly serving me fruity drinks in coconut halves. After I distribute the beach toys and reapply sunscreen on the kids, I’ll soak up the Polynesian splendor. Just think, hula performances under torch-lit palms . . . leis draped around me . . . luaus . . . lanais . . .” In my dream-dappled mind, there would be grandparents, aunts, and uncles to lavish attention on the kids. The gentle spirit of the island would permeate our hearts and inner harmony would reign.

But then Mandie started laughing so hard that I was actually afraid she’d lost control of her bladder.

We both knew it was far more likely that the actual scenario would be similar to what a mutual nanny friend of ours had just undergone. Her employer, a well-known baseball player, had brought her along to the famous Pebble Beach golf course, where he was playing in a huge charity golf tournament. The event was star-studded, and she couldn’t wait to rub elbows with some celebrities. But when the other baseball players’ wives realized someone had brought a nanny, they all dumped their kids in her suite and headed off to the tournament unencumbered. She spent three days in a hotel room with nine—count ’em, nine—kids. She never saw one moment of golf, beach, or sunshine.

I tried to be optimistic, but my spirits wavered when even getting out of the driveway became a massive undertaking. Our traveling caravan included me and my employers, Michael and Judy Ovitz; their three children (Joshua, Amanda, and Brandon); Michael’s parents; his brother, Mark, and Mark’s wife, Linda, and their six-year-old son; and Michael’s business partner, Ron Meyer, along with Ron’s date, Cyndi Garvey, and their four combined daughters. It took two stretch limos just to get the whole group to the airport. Altogether, the entourage totaled nine adults and eight children. In addition, Michael’s friend Al Checchi and his wife, three kids, and nanny would be meeting us at the resort.

After we were greeted at LAX by a professional-looking woman waiting at passenger drop-off, the limo driver unloaded enough luggage to supply an army tank division. We were breezily escorted through security and down a long hall to a door marked THE CAPTAIN’S CLUB. Who knew that airlines provided these private little sanctuaries to their frequent fliers? And Creative Artists Agency, Michael’s company—with his partners, staff, and clients—had probably racked up millions of such miles on the corporate American Express card. Michael waved the whole troupe over to the Captain’s Club portal.

A stone-faced young woman at the desk stopped us. Airline policy was to allow the frequent flier and one guest, and she was here to enforce the rules. She was firm and implacable with a perfunctory pleasantness that was so calm it was irritating. Michael started arguing his case, but she repeated patiently that this was company policy, with no exceptions. No exceptions? Michael’s face began to twitch as if a bug were trapped under his skin. The employee gave the impression of having weathered a few of these type A folks in her day. She repeated the policy clearly and identically several times. I recognized her “brokenrecord technique” from my childcare classes. But Michael wasn’t six.

“I’m sorry,Mr. . . .” She paused, waiting for him to fill in the blank.

He raised his eyebrows and lowered his face closer to hers. “Ovitz. Michael Ovitz,” he pronounced emphatically, as though there was not a soul alive who would not recognize his name.

The woman didn’t respond. She calmly kept typing on her computer as she stared into the monitor. I already had learned in my tenure with “the most powerful man in Hollywood” that there were several things that invariably irritated or angered him. One of them was not being recognized for the influential man he was. This was a bit of a contradiction, since he hated seeing his name in the papers and went to great lengths to keep his picture from being published. Whatever. Today was definitely a day he wanted to be recognized.

“Do you have any idea how many frequent-traveler miles my company has with this airline?” He smirked with the air of someone who always got his way. I thought about backing him up and rehearsed my part in my mind: Please, miss, lighten up. I have a chubby baby on one hip and a heavy diaper bag on the other, and I would like to sit down.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Ovitz. I don’t know you, and it wouldn’t matter if I did, because the rules are the rules,” she replied with unsurpassed calm. “You can have only one guest come in with you.” Oh dear, poor thing.

Maybe if I wriggled my eyebrows frantically, she’d relent. I tried desperately to make eye contact, wondering what kind of expression would let her know that she was teetering on the verge of unemployment.

From my position just behind Michael, I could almost feel the steam start to rise off his neck. Why couldn’t the woman see his rage? It was absolutely clear there was no way he was going to allow this irritating little bureaucrat to keep him from bringing his entire party into the Captain’s Club.We had a full two hours before our flight left.

Once again, I tried to communicate the situation telepathically. Girl, look at me. LOOK AT ME! Can’t you see this guy is used to people quaking at the mere mention of his name? There’s no way he is going to wait with his wife, parents, children, and friends with the riffraff at the gate! And now you’ve pissed him off, and the waiting is beside the point. You’re messing with his ego. Save yourself!

Without saying another word to the woman, Michael turned to us. “Take the kids and go sit over there,” he ordered. “I’ll be right back.” With that, he disappeared through the door. By the time he had returned ten minutes later, the woman behind the desk had already been plucked from the room by a large man in a business suit and replaced by another woman wearing a big smile. Upon Michael’s return, she personally ushered us into the elaborately decorated club and offered us lunch.

Michael may have won, but the rest of us certainly hadn’t. It was beneath his dignity to use his sophisticated negotiation skills on such a nobody. His lips were tight and his upper body even stiffer than usual. I got the distinct impression that anyone who even dared to breathe too loudly around him would get a stinging tongue-lashing of their own. No, my boss was far from happy, and when Michael ain’t happy, ain’t nobody gonna be happy. I carefully avoided looking in his direction.

The two hours passed excruciatingly slowly.

Finally it was time to board the aircraft. And what an aircraft it was. Usually when we flew we took corporate jets—fancy but definitely cozy and compact.You could have put six of those on each wing of this plane.

I had a hard time comprehending such massive bulk.We had first-class tickets, obviously, so we boarded first. Good thing they started early because it took fifteen minutes for the entire group to get into the cabin. Between all of us, we took up a good portion of the first-class seats. The tickets alone must have cost almost $20,000. As we all jockeyed for position, the flight attendants helped us stow the carry-ons and find our seats, and I could see the faces of the aristocracy already ensconced in their rows giving us looks of combined disgust and fear. I knew what they were thinking: How could anyone be so rude as to bring that many children, and so young, into first class? I paid a lot of money to sit here, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to put up with a bunch of screaming brats.

The airline billed this as a six-hour flight, and several of the children, including ten-month-old Brandon, were already either crying or fighting. The poor couple seated just behind us was settling down for their first flight as man and wife. What could they possibly think about the equivalent of a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party invading their honeymoon bliss? They were probably horrified enough to put off having their own kids.

I tried to avoid eye contact with them.

I did have plenty of distractions. First class alone stretched for two stories, connected by a large circular staircase that led to a lounge for first-class passengers. Well, not that I ever saw it, but that’s what Grandpa Ovitz reported to me. It was like flying in a house; everybody had their own wing. Right after we got on, Michael, Judy, Ron, Cyndi, and all the rest of the adults dashed upstairs and left me with the various kids. When and how it had been decided that I would graciously govern all eight children, I didn’t know. Nobody told me, that’s for sure.

It could’ve been much worse.Years later I would hear about how one actress with two young children made her nanny take the kids on the twelve-hour flight to visit her parents in their native country. Somehow, the actress’s busy work schedule always made it conveniently impossible to get tickets on the same flight as her toddlers. At least I wasn’t flying alone with my charges. After all, the adults were just upstairs.

The other occupants and the flight attendants all eyed me accusingly, the glares suddenly much more menacing. I knew they were thinking: What gall to bring eight young children on board and be insufficiently prepared to amuse them for the duration. Just who did I think I was?

Who was I?

I was the one changing diapers on the edge of the seat; the one wedging herself into the bathroom with a preschooler. The one ducking flying peanuts and consoling three little charges as they cried or screamed when the air pressure hurt their eardrums. The one needing the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast to pull down the carry-ons in an attempt to find a replacement for root-beer-soaked shorts.

All of Ron and Cyndi’s girls were very sweet and tried to help out, but this was ridiculous. I sent up a mayday by way of the flight attendant heading to the lounge. Evidently, the adults regarded this with some amusement, because Judy soon appeared at my side, laughing. “For goodness sakes, Suzy, what are you doing with these kids? Why didn’t you come up and let us know you couldn’t handle it?”

Maybe because I knew you’d make a statement just like that one, for everyone in first class to hear. Maybe because I knew you’d roll your eyes, too, just so I’m sure to see how incompetent you think I am. Maybe because wanted to avoid this humiliating scene we’re having right now.

Such was a glamorous day in the life of a Hollywood nanny.

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Customer Reviews

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( 37 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 37 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2007

    Hopefully this small town girl learned some manners

    I felt no sympathy for the author. She whines and complains throughtout the entire book, when most of her bad experiences as a nanny were caused by her own naivete. She comes across as needy. The only time she is truly comfortable with her nannying experiece is when she is treated as 'a member of the family.' Maybe if she accepted the fact that she was, just in fact an employee, she would have been able to show more gratitude. Almost every sentence in the book is written in such a sarcastic tone, it becomes unbearable to read. To top it off, her sarcastic rantings of the Hollywood elite are well over a decade old. Get over it already!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    quick read

    Funny stories about how the LA elite crowds are 'raising' children... Makes me appreciate my very normal and traditional childhood, that's for sure!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2008

    GREAT!!

    What a great book! I wouldnt call it a page turner but at the same time, it definitely held my interest. Very well written and although I have to admit, I had hoped for more dirt, it was still enough to satisfy my curiousity. Do yourself a favour, get this book, a blanket and a good cup of coffee and snuggle in for a cozy read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2007

    A hilarious but real glimpse into a crazy career!

    This was an absolutely fantastic book. I don't think the reviewer below fully grasped the concept, though. Hansen writes truthfully and confesses her naivete throughout the whole book. She was 19, fresh out of a small town in Oregon, of course she was naive! She NEVER comes across as rude, only as a girl with the best intentions of taking care of her clients' children. Her time spent with the Ovitz family is hilarious, to say the least, and even a little sad. She opens up about the crazy antics of the parents and how she completely bonded with at least one of their children. This book was SO easy to read, I could not put it down. I only wish Hansen had spent more time nannying in Hollywood so that I could read more!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2006

    Tinsel Town Uncovered

    'Never Nanny Again' is spirited and riviting. You will see that truth is stranger than fiction. Being a person raised by nannies in the bay area, I can relate not only to the author but to the family. No one wants to admit it, but rich people do have there own set of rules. This is as true as it gets.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    BEING A NANNY TO THE STARS ISN'T HEAVENLY AFTER ALL

    What's a girl to do when she's about to graduate from high school and hasn't a clue about the future? That's frustrating and also embarrassing as a listing of the seniors' after graduation plans were posted in the school hallway. Suzanne Hansen didn't want white space after her name so she enrolled in nanny school. She put NNI after Hansen on the roster and hoped it would be thought of as a college rather than Northwest Nannies Institute. Nannying seemed like a good choice. Hansen loved children and she had been babysitting for as long as she could remember. After all, there hadn't been a great deal to do in Cottage Grove, Oregon, 'where the highlight of a typical resident's week was bingo at the Elk's Lodge.' Now, she would soon be off to Portland, home of the Institute. Little did she know that after four months she'd be winging it to Tinseltown where she would interview with people who had more money than she knew existed and win a job as nanny for super agent Michael Ovitz, arguably the most powerful man in Hollywood. Once on staff she quickly learned that nannying for the stars wasn't as heavenly as she had imagined. Evidently the prospect of such a glamorous existence dulled Hansen's senses as she forgot NNI's cardinal rule, which was to have a written agreement about the salary, hours and overtime rates before accepting a position. Thus, she found herself working 24/7 with no overtime. Truth be told, mxing Hansen with Michael and Judy Ovitz and their three offspring was a bit like trying to blend oil and water. Almost from day one Hansen was convinced that Judy didn't like her and that there was nothing in the world she could do to win favor. Eldest child Josh didn't like her either and was given to tantrums, while middle child Amanda seemed to be aping her brother's demeanor. For the first few months the sheer excitement of picking up the phone and hearing the voice of Bill Murray or Dustin Hoffman or Tom Cruise buoyed Hansen's homesickness and workload. But, eventually, she decided that she had to leave the Ovitzes, hopefully for a more sanguine, less demanding household. She soon discovered that no one just left Ovitz or as it was put 'inconvenienced' him. She found herself blackballed by the mightiest of the mighty in La-La-Land. Reading that Paul Newman had once described Ovitz as 'a cross between a barracuda and Mother Teresa,' she totally agreed. Eventually, she found a place with Debra Winger who had also jumped the Ovitz ship. Her tenure there, while enjoyable, was short lived as Winger wanted to be a real hands-on mom. Next, Hansen nannyed for Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman. She loved them both, found them to be down-to-earth, thoughtful, and kind. However, Hollywood had taken its toll on her and she wanted to go back home. A Mary Poppins she was not. If you're looking for some really hot skinny in this 'tell-all,' you'll be disappointed. We do learn that Tom Cruise's real name is Mapother, that Debra Winger didn't enjoy working with Richard Gere, and that Goldie Hawn leads her kids in sing-a-longs on plane trips. Hansen kept a journal so what readers will find is a day by day account of a nanny's life among the rich and catered to. It's a breezy read plus entree to some of Hollywood's plushest mansions as well as the author's take on those who dwell within. - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Interesting Insight

    The Goldberg's, at least Margret, & the Orvit 's should be ashamed of themselves. They are practically guilty of attempting slavery. Less fortunate people are there to serve them like used kleenex. The reviewer who blamed the nanny for being taken advantage of is wrong - they intentionally took advantage of their positions of power.

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  • Posted September 30, 2009

    Nice read

    I enjoyed the book. I think the author's problem is that she expected her employers to treat her like she was apart of their family.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    New Perspective

    I didn't consider myself a Bette Davis fan exactly, but I was curious about her, and this book left me with a compassion and admiration for her. She was a straight-shooter and a great actress, and it was so sad that her daughter stabbed her in the back when she was most vulnerable. I'm so glad she had Kathryn Sermak as a substitute daughter. I ended up also buying Bette's autobiography, "This 'n That," but this book was the perfect foundation for it. Really enjoyed it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2006

    Very entertaining light reading

    Definitely a page turner. Very interesting to see how differently people can view their role as parents and whose responsibility it really is. Some people seem to think of their children as 'tasks' to be undertaken rather than people with whom to build relationships.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2006

    A Great Read!

    I loved this book. Descriptive, funny, and sad, all at the same time. I loved reading the accounts of different celebrities Suzanne met. It's an experience that is fun to read about, but I'm glad I didn't go through it!!!!

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    Posted April 11, 2012

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