Review: ‘My Hollywood’ by Mona Simpson

To raise another person’s child, or your own for that matter is a difficult and extremely important job. Mona Simpson shows you the less glamorous side of those who raise other people’s children in her fifth book, My Hollywood.

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 7.17.12 AMThe story revolves around Claire and her family; she is a mother to her son William, a composer, and a wife to Paul. Paul is a man consumed by his television industry job who works long days and nights. In order for both Claire and Paul to be able to pursue their careers it becomes apparent that they will need help raising her young son William.

Claire meets Lola, a spunky 52-year-old Filipina woman in a park and offers her the job to take care of William on the spot. Lola is working in the US to put her children through school in the Philippines. The majority of her earnings are sent back to her family so they can survive. She reminds them in a conversation, “I am here cleaning American toilets so you can study.”

Although Lola is always there for Claire and William (she even lives on the property) she does not receive much pay, job security, or any admiration. Even though the circumstances are not ideal Lola seems overall happy. She lives knowing that when her youngest child is finished with her medical degree she will get to go back home to the Philippines.

Claire on the other hand appears to have it all but is barely getting by. She has an unfulfilled marriage and lives in unspoken competition with her friends.

When Lola proves herself to be a saving grace in Claire’s household the other mothers in LA attempt to steal Lola away with money so that they can have the best nanny.

This is not a new story, but Simpson’s detail and gently woven prose exposes an entirely different, lesser-known side of caregiving and raising a family in Hollywood.