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The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com
Molinari, Lisa Smith
Molinari’s debut memoir, structured as a literary sitcom, is a hilarious depiction of life as a Navy wife and mother of three. Molinari, self-described as a “harried mom who hides a can of Pringles in the laundry room,” believes that no matter the task, she will always be “Supermom.” This belief is tested when her husband, naval intelligence officer Francis, is deployed for a year of service in Djibouti. At first, she is able to manage Hayden, Anna, Lilly, and Dinghy the dog with ease. But as the months pass, Molinari realizes that balancing motherhood, long-distance marriage, and her own sanity is not as easy as she envisioned. She copes by writing down life’s joys and struggles on a yellow legal pad, notes that developed into blog posts and then became the “episodes” of the book’s five “seasons.”

Molinari’s frank, succinct writing will make readers feel like they’re swapping family anecdotes with a close friend. She observes modern life with fresh imagery, wry wit, and attention to detail. Though each episode follows a pattern, beginning with a mishap and ending with a life lesson, the occasional clichés (“In spite of losing every game, the Sharks were a winning team after all”) are offset by Molinari’s candid sense of humor. The similarities in the stories will be easily overlooked by readers who dip in and out of the book; binge-watchers will get less out of reading it straight through.

In true sitcom form, each character in Molinari’s life plays a key role in shaping her sense of self. She narrates with pointed self-awareness and honesty, especially when she’s poking fun at herself. Of particularly poignant note is the author’s reaction to her son’s autism diagnosis, highlighting her fretting even as he repeatedly shows that he can be happy and achieve significant accomplishments. True to its title, this is a book whose rich flavor is best savored in small bites.

Takeaway: This relatable, laugh-out-loud memoir about motherhood, marriage, and the military will appeal to readers who find humor in the everyday.

Great for fans of Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Roz Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Erma Bombeck, Jennifer Weiner.

Production grades
Cover: B-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-