Synopses & Reviews
When she was in her early thirties, Tasha Blaine briefly became a nanny. She expected an easy, nine-to-five stint, but instead she discovered the vast, varied, and fascinating world of nannies. Often overlooked and invisible, these women have a tremendous impact on the families that hire them.
To tell the true story of this largely unknown world of career nannies, Blaine immersed herself in the lives of three women. We meet Claudia, who left the Caribbean to become a nanny in New York and is struggling to support her own child she left behind. We get to know Vivian, a young, white, college-educated woman from Boston, who wins a Nanny of the Year award even as she absorbs the painful truth that her role in the family is shrinking as her charges grow up. And we witness the struggles of Kim, a dedicated Texas nanny who dreams of having her own family as she moves in with a couple expecting their first baby. Just Like Family exposes the fears and fantasies we have about nannies and takes us deep inside the real world of women whose job it is to care for someone elses children as their own.
"Six months as a nanny left then-MFA student Blaine with a newfound respect for the in-home childcare worker and a book idea; after five years of research, she's produced a fascinating, intimate portrait of three nannies selflessly devoted to raising (and loving) other people's children. In a single, confident narrative, Blaine introduces Claire, worried that she'll soon be out of a job, and considering the first real steps toward her dream of becoming a nurse; Vivian, a former Nanny of the Year Award winner, who transforms chaos into 'a methodical process in which every problem is anticipated, dealt with, and consistently managed'; and divorcee Kim, who finds the career helps fulfill her lifelong aspiration to be a mother. Like parenthood, nannyhood is not for the faint of heart or those without hefty reserves of self-esteem: besides comments like 'nobody smart wants to be a nanny,' the narrative includes plenty of situations in which nannies attempt to help in family decisions, only to be rebuffed. Blaine doesn't draw any conclusions or force any confrontations, a la Barbara Ehrenreich, focusing on the emotional weight of her subjects' work. This gentler tone allows for a subtle, complex portrait of the nanny-family relationship, but those with a strong justice reflex may feel frustrated." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
When she was in her early 30s, Blaine briefly became a nanny. She had expected an easy, nine-to-five stint, but instead discovered the vast, varied, and largely unknown world of nannies. "Just Like Family" takes readers deep inside the lives of women whose job it is to love.
An intimate journey into the lives of the women whose job is to love
Claudia Williams had a superpower she used only under special circumstances. She could make herself invisible. When her employers bickered or there was tension in the house, Claudia retreated to the corner of the living room and silently flipped through a magazine. That was one of the qualities that made Claudia a good nanny. She did not get in the way. She could judge whether Betsy wanted to chat or be left alone; whether James was looking to play with the children or wanted them out of his hair. She shepherded Jackson and Lucy around the neighborhood, but she did not try to lead the family pack. Her job was a series of essential tasks - picking the children up from classes, arranging play dates, folding laundry - but there were few complicated decisions to make, and she did not weigh in on issues like schools or extracurricular activities or potential problems with the kids. If asked, Claudia would have offered her opinion. But she was never asked.
About the Author
TASHA BLAINE completed her MFA at New York University. After working briefly as a nanny herself, she spent more than five years researching and interviewing nannies at their workplaces and in their homes. Blaine was born and raised in New York City and now lives in California with her husband and two children.