Monday, May 5, 2014

Review of Jolie Kerr’s My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . And Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha

I will admit that I’ve been addicted to Jolie Kerr’s column “Ask A Clean Person” for quite a while now.  Even as my apartment slowly descended into something resembling a health code violation, I took solace and joy in reading her straightforward, sunny replies to some truly heinous cleaning questions.

Every person who wrote in sounded like the owner of this room
When I heard Kerr planned on a book, I dutifully added it to my list of upcoming books I wanted to read, and received my copy a few weeks ago in the mail.  This might sound strange coming from a reader of YA fiction, but I consumed the entire book in one sitting, plunging through pages advising me how to clean with a (DAMP, NOT WET) rag and beseeching me to wash my makeup brushes more frequently.

It really was an enjoyable read, packed with lines that I actually giggled aloud at (“Are you panicked? I want you to be panicked, because that’s how you’ll remember things.”) and some awesome DIY tips for cleaning everything from cars to toilet bowl brushes. That’s right . . . you are supposed to be cleaning your toilet bowl brushes! Kerr tells us that “there are people who believe that after every use of a toilet brush – every single use! – that brush is to be disinfected with bleach and boiling water,” and that she wants us “to be ready for those people when they spring up unbidden” in our lives.

And they look like this.

Sometimes Kerr’s voice was a little distracting, especially when she sat on a vowel or consonant a tad too long or employed capslock liberally, e.g. in Chapter 2, describing mopping:  “OH MY GOD WHY IS THERE HAIR EVERYWHERE THAT IS NOW WET HAIR EVERYWHERE AND GROSSSSSSSSS.”  At the same time, that was the charm of Kerr’s blog, and it’s certainly an accessible voice – maybe I’m just not used to this level of enthusiasm in non-fiction print!

Pictured:  Enthusiasm
That’s sort of the adventure here – this is the first non-fiction book I think we’ve reviewed here at Mad But Magic.  So why are we reviewing it?  Well, it’s certainly aimed at young adults (even if they’re not the only audience, they are the primary ones).  It addresses some of the unspoken, gritty challenges of adult life, specifically the challenge of not living in your own filth.  And frankly, it’s extremely useful and yes, I will admit, a little inspiring. As in, maybe-I-should-clean-my-bathroom-more inspiring.  That may sound pedestrian to you, but there is something to be said for respecting the spaces we’re lucky enough to call our own and share with others.  Plus, I find Kerr’s cleaning ethos equally inspirational, which uses homemade, DIY, and often earth-friendly products and techniques (think vinegar and minimal water use – DAMP, NOT WET).

The earth, thanks to Jolie Kerr

In sum:  inspiring, relevant, and aimed at young adults. What’s not to like? We at Mad But Magic give it a firm four stars.  And I’ll add one plea for Kerr’s next foray:  please tell us young adults how to clean our electronics!  Seriously, the grossest thing in my house is my iPhone.  How do I clean it, Jolie!?

Literally, this source is called "iPhone Oil Paintings"



All image sources hyperlinked in captions.

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