Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Under the Covers: Dumbfounded

So I figured I hadn't done any book reviews in awhile, which means i am overdue for one....

TITLE: Dumbfounded: Big Money. Big Hair. Big Problems. Or Why Having It All Isn't For Sissies

AUTHOR: Matt Rothschild

GENRE: Memoir

SUMMARY: A self-described chubby kid with a “Jewfro” hairdo, Rothschild was raised by his maternal grandparents after his mother decided she would rather live in Italy with her fourth husband than raise a son. Rothschild’s grandmother, Sophie, a sassy senior with a mouth like a sewer, ruled the manor at her family’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. (Even in the 1990s, the Rothschilds were the sole Jewish residents in the building.) Young Matt is a hopeless misfit—both inside his home and out. He forever aspires to win the praise of his grandfather, who wishes he’d try out for a sports team rather than sport his grandmother’s dresses. He attempts to earn the sympathy of his grade-school classmates by pretending his mother committed suicide. He’s eventually shipped off to a boarding school, his sexual confusion reaching its peak when he shares a room with the campus stud. Rothschild, who readily admits to changing names, places, and events, labors a bit too hard for laughs in this occasionally funny but ultimately contrived debut. --Allison Block**

ROSE'S REVIEW: If you ever wondered what if would be like growing up jewish, rich and struggling with your sexuality in Manhattan's upper-east side, then this is the book for you. Rothschild life is both fascinating and heartbreaking. Even though he grew up notoriously rich, you never feel like he's just some spoiled rotten celebutante. Rothschild is more David Sedaris than Paris Hilton. His childhood antics are so captivating that you wonder how Rothschild could be so sweet and so gullible growing up in NYC. He becomes someone you root for anyways, especially after you are introduced to his mother. His grandparents are the perfect mis-matched couple. His grandfather fled before the holocaust and is all about his Jewish Origins, even though the family doesn't keep to the traditions. His grandmother is a pistol, who randomly takes trips around the world to take pictures and brings back (fake) Chinese natives to work in the house and she hates her husband's family. In and out of schools all his life because of his zany ways, Rothschild is the most compelling when he hits college and everything falls apart for him. But he seems to make it out okay since he is now a famous author.

I happen to come across the hardcover copy of this book in Books-a-Million sale stock for 2 dollars. Unable to pass up such a deal (especially when the front cover had a quote from Jen Lancaster about how funny the book is), I devoured this book on my off time from work. It's not perfect (and life isn't either) and sometimes you can feel the author's anger towards his mother dripping through the pages. But its still a great memoir and a really funny read.


** From booklist found on Amazon


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