The Secret Currency of Love: The Unabashed Truth About Women, Money, and Relationships
edited by Hilary Black

William Morrow, 2009. ISBN 978-0-06-156096-5.
Reviewed by Susan M. Andrus
Posted on 04/09/2009

Anthologies/Collections; Nonfiction: Relationships; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: American Women in Their Cultural/Historical Context

Money and relationships often get tangled in a negative spiral, but Hilary Black has untangled them and offered us essays by women who divulge their experiences. One of the most striking essays is "Severance" by Jennifer Wolff Perrine, who bought a baby from a family who did not have the resources or energy to raise a third child. The interaction between these two families, the emotions involved in the giving and taking of a child and the honesty both sets of parents expressed showed that although money was part of the transaction, the relationship that developed between the two sets of parents provided the strength to make it a success.

Another essay contrasts raising children on a tight budget with sending them to school with affluent kids. In "The Price of Admission" Leslie Bennetts shows how her two children, enrolled in an elite private school, learned to negotiate a life of austerity while associating with the wealthy. Their daughter spent summer vacation in France with her friend, and her son accepted not having a cell phone while his friends repeatedly lost their phones and got new ones. At a parent discussion meeting, when Bennetts mentioned that her children worked to earn an allowance, "[t]heir disdain made me feel like the proverbial skunk at the garden party..."

Although many of the essays centered on women who had enough or excess money, the different lifestyles pictured here created variety and interest. Excellent writing made this book even more of a pleasure to read.

Hilary Black has spent her career as an editor in both books and magazines. She has held positions at Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, More magazine (where she was a founding editor), and Tango magazine (where she was editor in chief). She lives in New York City. Visit her website.

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