Simple Truths Hillary Clinton Weaves Together The Personal With The Analytical In Rallying Cry For Healthy Child-Rearing
Mon., Feb. 5, 1996
“It Takes a Village” By Hillary Rodham Clinton (Simon and Schuster, 318 pages, $20)
She’s the first first lady to be called before a grand jury, and we’re not likely to learn what she said for some time.
But there’s nothing secret about Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book, which just hit the best-sellers list. For those who are curious, “It Takes A Village”; Simon and Schuster ($20) is like a caramel latte - strong and sweet.
The first lady’s book, her first, is intelligent and firm in its assertions - no surprise there. But the 318-page volume also weaves together tradition, sentiment and spiritual values.
Clinton borrowed the title from an old African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child. And she opens with a quote from American author Herman Melville: “We cannot live for ourselves alone … our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
The quote sets the lofty and idealistic tone for a book that also includes many personal stories from her life as a mother, a daughter, a sister and a wife.
She writes in the opening paragraphs of her 25 years’ experience as a children’s advocate, years that, she says, taught her the need for each individual to accept responsibility for every young person’s upbringing.
Many of her stories put the soft, vulnerable and caring Hillary on display. She seems comfortable recounting her and Bill’s initial problems starting a family, her troubles with breast-feeding, and her decision to bite her lip from time to time for the sake of her marriage.
Many pages are dedicated to stories of her mother-in-law, Virginia Kelley, a woman she admires for her strength and continuing commitment to the family, and of Chelsea Clinton, her daughter.
She recalls Chelsea’s early dislike of hot dogs and hamburgers, and preference for Chicken McNuggets, and she remembers the day she and her daughter spent hurling a coconut against the pavement in the parking lot of the Arkansas governor’s mansion until it cracked.
But she also mixes the warm and personal with harsh statistics: Today, for example, one in four children is born out of wedlock; in 1960, it was one out of 20.
Overall, this isn’t a deeply philosophical or even controversial book, but one simply filled with truths that are worth a read, and a reread.
She advocates family meals and reading with your children, and she encourages spirituality and communication as the keys to a promising future. She also urges parents to take time out, to be childish and not to give up the things they enjoy.
Throughout, the message of responsibility and accountability for all people, not just parents, shines through. She praises organizations such as the Children’s Defense Fund and Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, as well as individuals and government programs that protect and aid children.
The writing is straightforward, casual, gentle and not intimidating. Parents and non-parents should read it to remind them of the simple but essential point: Children must have caring, nurturing and informed adults around them.
It’s a textbook for caring.
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