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Picks and Pans Review: Money, a Memoir

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By Liz Perle

REVIEWED BY MOIRA BAILEY

NONFICTION

Liz Perle’s emotional relationship with money was stickier than the one she had with her first husband, who sent Perle and their 4-year-old son packing five weeks after they’d joined him on a job assignment in Singapore. That surprise split prompted this clear-eyed accounting of the cash in her life—and in the lives of the more than 200 mostly middle-class women she interviewed. Perle uncovers a wealth of emotions attached to money and a sisterhood of denial about finances. Those feelings don’t exist in a vacuum—family, consumer culture and the changing roles of women all contribute. (As she puts it, “I’m trying to live up to the financial expectations of my father’s world and the maternal ones of my mother’s.”) Perle, who repeats familiar yet sobering statistics about why women need to own up (pay inequity, pension instability, longevity), offers no quick fixes. Now remarried, she adheres to “the fiscal equivalent of Weight Watchers,” facing the fact that spending in one place means she can’t in another and no longer “pinning my hopes on that white knight, dream job, unknown dead uncle or winning lottery number that will rescue me.” Reading her book may not help you do the same, but it will make you realize you’re not alone.