You’ll find this book interesting if you are familiar with LeRoy and Rochester, NY. Also helps if you were around during the 50s and 60s and ate a lot of that green pineapple-cottage cheese jello or my favorite, red jello with pretzels and sour cream. Otherwise, better than this book is to buy Joy of Jell-o recipes and try a few.
It’s hard to be a millionaire and live in LeRoy.
Allie Rowbottom tells her mother’s and grandmother’s cancer-filled stories, stories she feels shed light on women’s roles from the turn of the 20th century to current times.
Rowbottom’s memoir left me both intrigued and repelled. Intrigued by her running narrative of her family’s place in Jell-O history and Jell-O’s and domestic science’s place in our country’s social history. Repelled by her and family’s traumas, tough reading even with her feminist take on the roots. A bit ambitious and confessional; it didn’t all quite hang together although her prose is beautiful, I’d say.
A lot of history of Jell-O which I lived through most of, having some of those salads mentioned at family, friends, and church gatherings as a child. The lives interwoven in the Jell-O story were very sad to read about, and an actual lack of faith of any spiritual basis, except that of the nether world. I kept reading wanting to believe there was perhaps going to be a better ending than what they all lived. The reader certainly can understand the frustration of those lives as the author was capable of expressing that, utilizing actions and verbiages of anger on the page to make the point. I was not pleased with the sharing of them, thinking she could have done better.
Jello was the staple of my childhood and the red, white and blue salad still is required at my 4th of July celebrations. It saddened me to read the story of a grandmother, mother and daughter whose wealth came from the sale of Jello, not to have a happy life. Money doesn’t make you happy. I liked the inclusion of the information about evolution of the Jello ads as the author moved forward with her memoir, comparing how her life matched what Jello was trying to sell.
nytimes.com review July 2018
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