Book Review: Disaster Preparedness

Heather Havrilesky
Riverhead Books, 2010
240 pages
hard cover


I picked this one up from the library because one of the myriad of magazines I receive each month did a blurb recommending it. And it was a cute, sweet read, a quick read, something I could take in bite-sized chunks between the kids' naps and such. Nothing I couldn't put down, which sometimes is better because otherwise you let the television babysit a bit too much.

Havrilesky does a nice job of capturing a particular time, growing up in the 70s and 80s, though by my estimation she has about five years on me. Still, my experiences were similar, even though my parents aren't divorced and I don't have siblings--which is a credit to the writer, that I could still relate to what she had to say despite differing circumstances. Maybe it's something about the parents of our generation, or maybe it's that we grew up during the tail end of the Cold War and had to live through the drills of hunkering under our desks as if that would ever do anything to save us if the bombs fell. Maybe it's because I, too, had a day when it was made clear to me that my clothes did not come from a "good" store (weren't clothes just clothes?) and learned then to begin longing for and aspiring to something better. Like her, I had a moment of wondering whether the people at church were all wrong. And like Haverilesky, I can look back and simultaneously mourn my lost innocence and kick a little dirt at it. We all use our histories to our own ends, after all, and sometimes we can extend them for others' use, which is more or less what Havrilesky does. Whether the reader can find anything to use will probably be a more personal issue; the book wouldn't work for a different generation, perhaps, or maybe it breaks along gender lines. I don't know.

What it comes down to is that I can recommend it in general, but at the same time I understand that this book won't be for everybody. Chalk it up to "worth a shot."