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Book Review of Maria Shriver's Just Who Will You Be?

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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Book Review of Maria Shriver's Just Who Will You Be?

Book jacket image courtesy of Hyperion

The Bottom Line

Maria Shriver’s Just Who Will You Be? will inspire and validate moms going through an identity crisis. Casual readers, though, should steer clear, as it squanders the opportunity for profound insights. Shriver experienced an identity crisis after her husband, action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, won the California governor’s race and she had to give up her NBC job and a quarter-century career in television journalism. It’s engaging to hear a famous woman’s self-doubt, but you’ll read in vain for real meat, in this slight, folksy book. Shriver’s message: who you are is more important that what you do for a living.
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Pros

  • A glimpse inside the celebrity life of Maria Shriver, a Kennedy and wife to Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Echoes the lost feeling of many mothers whose career ends by choice or circumstance
  • Quick read, conversational tone
  • The message is terrific: don’t look to others for validation, be happy in your own skin

Cons

  • The poem at the center of the book is hokey
  • Unlikely to resonate with someone not currently in an identity crisis
  • No interesting revelations about Shriver’s marriage or family
  • It costs $14.95 for an hour of reading

Description

  • A 91-page, hard-cover book that retails for $14.95
  • Built around a speech Maria Shriver gave at her nephew’s high school graduation
  • Addresses the identity crisis many working moms feel when they give up their career
  • Written in a conversational tone

Guide Review - Book Review of Maria Shriver's Just Who Will You Be?

Maria Shriver eats licorice! And Dots! And Swedish fish! Her teenage kids talk back and roll their eyes at her. She agonizes over her career, identity and future -- she’s just like us!

That seems to be the hook of Just Who Will You Be? a slim book that probably will inspire and validate many mothers going through an identity crisis. Casual readers, though, should steer clear. Ultimately, Shriver squanders the opportunity to dig deep and articulate truly profound insights.

Shriver experienced an identity crisis after unexpectedly giving up her quarter-century career as a television journalist. When her husband Arnold Schwarzenegger won the California governorship, NBC considered it a conflict of interest to continue to employ Shriver, so she was forced to quit. Shortly thereafter, her teenage son told her to face the truth: "You’re a housewife." That sent her into a tailspin.

I was excited to see what Maria Shriver had to say about weathering the crisis. It’s certainly interesting material -- self-doubt and soul searching from a Kennedy and Hollywood wife. But aside from a few conversations with her kids and a friend, she simply recites her life lessons, rather than taking us on the journey with her. Indeed, her appearances on Oprah and elsewhere were more self-revealing that the book itself.

The book ends up feeling slight. It took me under an hour to read, and I doubt I’d ever go back to re-read it. My advice: save the $14.95 for your kid’s college fund. If you’re truly curious, read the last 20 pages in your local library or bookstore. That was the most meaningful section of the book to me, with some true life wisdom. I especially liked My Pledge, which also came from a public appearance.

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