Non-Fiction Friday: My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag

Posted 11 April, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Non-Fiction Friday: My Boyfriend Barfed in My HandbagMy Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can't Ask Martha by Jolie Kerr
Published by Penguin on February 20th 2014
Genres: Cleaning, Caretaking & Organizing, General, House & Home, Humor
Pages: 256

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The author of the hit column “Ask a Clean Person” offers a hilarious and practical guide to cleaning up life’s little emergencies Life is filled with spills, odors, and those oh-so embarrassing stains you just can’t tell your parents about. And let’s be honest: no one is going to ask Martha Stewart what to do when your boyfriend barfs in your handbag. Thankfully, Jolie Kerr has both staggering cleaning knowledge and a sense of humor. With signature sass and straight talk, Jolie takes on questions ranging from the basic—how do I use a mop? —to the esoteric—what should I do when bottles of homebrewed ginger beer explode in my kitchen? My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag proves that even the most nightmarish cleaning conundrums can be solved with a smile, the right supplies, and a little music.

My problem with this book is probably my inability to read blurbs correctly. I read this: 

Wise and funny. . . . The Lorrie Moore short story, or the Tina Fey memoir, of cleaning tutorials.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

My brain picked out the words ‘wise and funny’ and ‘Tina Fey memoir’ combined that with the fun sounding title and I wanted to read it. Imagine my surprise when I found this is not a memoir. To make things worse it’s a blog turned book and it totally feels like it.

This book is basically a 256 page how to clean up random things. I am NOT a Clean Person ™ (but my husband totally is, he might have actually enjoyed this book), I’m also singlehandedly filling up America’s landfills. A whole chapter on wedding dress disasters, your kitchen, bathroom, semen (and other protein based stains). There are tips for how to clean your pumice stone and loofah (my solution: toss them in the trash every so often –  drive to Target – buy a new one – rinse – repeat) the tone of the book is almost too light. Maybe I’m old fashioned but I feel like if you’re going to write a book you need to be able to rely on your words to create desired effects (here, familiarity and humor) instead of lazy blogger (yeah, I’m looking at myself here) tricks like speaking directly to the reader and using allllllll the devices that your English teacher warned you about.

Despite its attempt at familiarity there is very little of substance offered to the reader so there is no real established narrative. It’s just a really long compilation of her online column Ask A Clean Person. Again, I’m willing to take half the blame here for misreading the blurb, but also who wants to read a whole book that’s just cleaning tips? (Maybe my husband.) This is 2.5 stars, but I’ll round up to three because of the part my quick eyes and slower mind played in me even picking up this book.

Aside from the book, I want to discuss some issues that I’m having with the way books are marketed/written/produced lately. What happened to books for everyone? This is a whole other post. Remind me later.

Are you a Clean Person™? Would you read a whole book of cleaning tips? Why not just look up what you need on the internet? 


April @ The Steadfast Reader


Comments are closed.