‘Hypocrite’ is a fun, but perhaps not factual, memoir
What do you want to be when you grow up? I love to ask kids that question, and I’ve gotten some pretty funny answers. One little girl told me that she wanted to be a ballerina and a doctor and a singer.Wouldn’t that be a physician’s appointment you’d want to keep?So what did you want to be, growing up? In the memoir “Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress” by Susan Jane Gilman (c.2004, Warner Books), Gilman wanted to be many things, but what she turned out to be most, is funny.When Gilman was four years old, she wanted to be a movie star, so her mother signed her up for a part in a hippie “documentary.” Gilman imagined her glamorous self becoming the envy of her friends, but the movie was less-than-memorable. Gilman decided that if she wanted to be a real star, she alone would have to make it happen.In grade school, Gilman decided she wanted to be a ballerina and Batgirl, but most of all, she wanted to be special. She decided that being Susan Gilman wasn’t good enough, so she “became” a ballerina, she told her classmates that her parents were changing her name to Sapphire, and that she had a new baby sister. Problem is, she wasn’t, they weren’t, and the baby sister was really a two-year-old brother. After the truth came out, Gilman learned that being herself was much more fun than lying.As she was growing up, Gilman tried hard to fit in. She had brains and wit a good combination if you’re an adult, but guaranteed pariah-making if you’re a kid. Gilman writes about adolescence and the hormonal rush of trying to lose her virginity when she couldn’t get a real honest-to-goodness date with a boy because boys saw her as the buddy-type. This was before she woke up one morning, with a whoa! need for a first bra.From there to college, her first job, and beyond, Susan Jane Gilman writes about what it’s like to grow up in a less-than-Ozzie-and-Harriet household, how it feels to come face-to-face with a past you never knew existed, and how wonderful it is to find someone who accepts you as you are and loves you anyhow.”Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress” is a memoir that’s difficult to describe. On one hand, it’s hard to figure out when Gilman is “pulling your leg” and when she’s not exaggerating, which makes reading this book like spending a fun afternoon with a friend who is known for embellishment. On the other hand, Gilman’s chapter on the school Christmas play, and especially her chapter about accompanying teenagers to Poland, will make you want to cry. “Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress” is a great book for you if you ever wanted to be someone other than who you were when you were a child. Pick up this book for yourself and for all your favorite grown-ups. VT
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