Diary of a Mad Bride

Diary of a Mad Mom-to-Be
by Laura Wolf
(Delta, $10.95, PG) ISBN 0-385-33677-2
Is having a baby as funny as getting married? Laura Wolf follows up her hilarious debut,Diary of a Mad Bride, with a predictable but entertaining sequel. When we last saw Amy Thomas, she had barely survived the fevered planning for her wedding to her boyfriend Stephen. Never-ending to-do lists and a futile search for the perfect shoes had finally given way to the realization that it was the marriage, not the wedding, that should be the focus of her attention.

Now, two years later, Amy has just started a new job at a second-rate public relations firm when her biological alarm clock rings loudly. One day she’s eyeing her friend’s three children with barely disguised disdain, and the next she’s frantically calculating her ovulation cycle. Stephen is a little less enthusiastic, fearing that the couple is neither emotionally nor financially ready to be parents, but he eventually agrees to jump on the baby bandwagon. After a brief and needless worry about infertility, Amy is happily knocked up. She approaches pregnancy with the same fervor that she handled her wedding - if she makes enough lists and organizes everything, giving birth should be no big deal, right? Unfortunately, she hasn’t reckoned with a few of the less publicized features of being pregnant - like the fact that you can’t eat sushi, your morning sickness lasts 24 hours a day, and you develop Dog Nose, a super-keen sense of smell. With an exasperating new client, a best friend who is shopping for a sperm donor and a father who is intent on building the first 3-legged crib in modern history, Amy tries to remain focused on the baby growing inside her. She refuses to panic that her To Do list has now grown to 63 items, only a few of which have been accomplished. But she’s running out of time. Despite the fact that pregnancy is really ten months, not nine (another item for the Things No One Tells You About Pregnancy list), Amy’s due date is rapidly approaching.

Laura Wolf, a television and screenwriter, definitely has a flair for comedy. Her use of footnotes, lists and screenplay-like dialogue give Diary of a Mad Mom-to-Be a hip, ironic tone. She accurately skewers pregnancy icons like What to Expect When You’re Expecting (thinly disguised here as Baby Here, Baby Now) and its annoying ability to instill the expectant mother with both guilt and needless terror.

The book also nails that elated/terrified feeling you have when pregnant - are you mature enough to be responsible for a small, vulnerable human being? - as well as the realization that you’re entering a new phase of life in which late-night partying and discretionary spending on your own needs will no longer have a place. Plus, as in Mad Bride, Amy’s relationship with Stephen is an appealing mix of humor and genuine tenderness.

Wolf briefly crosses the line when Amy experiences several months of anxiety that she will never get pregnant. These scenes are played for laughs and believe me, as someone who has seen friends and family suffer, there is NOTHING funny about infertility. I wish Wolf had just skipped that subplot, it falls completely flat.

At a brief, breezy 300 pages, Diary of a Mad Mom-to-Be is a quick read that might be a good gift for a pregnant friend who needs a few laughs, or for any mom who might enjoy looking back with nostalgia on that particular lunacy. But the novelty of Wolf’s style has begun to wear a bit thin. What’s next, Diary of a Mad Toddler Mom? Diary of a Mad Retiree? I’d love to see Amy’s To-Do Lists confronted with the chaos of a toddler, but is that enough to sustain an entire novel? My suspicion is that a trilogy of Amy will be enough, and then it’s time for Laura Wolf to point her talents in a different direction.

--Susan Scribner

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