My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you’ve been to Manhattan, no matter where in the borough, you’ve probably done your own anthropological studies. I know I have. There’s a wide variety to choose from: everything from the naked cowboy to the limo-chauffeured movie stars. It’s hard not to stare.
Among the more curious species living in New York are the socialites living in the high rise towers overlooking Central Park, where the rent is in the millions. They are the ones that walk through the throng of window shoppers on 5th Avenue, purchasing thousands of dollars’ worth of clothes without causing a dent on their black AmEx. Yes, this is the same curious group that hosts presidential candidates and have Ivy League schools construct buildings in their name.
Enter Wednesday Martin: a trained researcher from the Midwest. You would not be far off in thinking PRIMATES ON PARK AVENUE is a grown-up, scientific version of MEAN GIRLS. Although not as high-school catty, the pristine ladies have their own issues (many issues!). Forget Beats by Dre or Nike shoes to be cool: if you’re not dropping the average American worker’s pay into a purse whose name you can’t pronounce, you’re out.
Yes, these women are craaaazy. All in the name—the image. High heels hurting your feet? Get an injection. Gaining weight during pregnancy? Exercise more; starve yourself. Think you’re getting old at 30? Botox, baby.
Don’t let the glamorous, woman-appealing cover keep you away from this book. I’m a dude, and I enjoyed it. Wednesday Martin crafts a well-written account of these rich women with hilarious and poignant comparisons to those animals we’re accustomed to seeing on National Geographic. Remember the mall water fountain scene in MEAN GIRLS? It was funny and got the point across, didn’t it?
Martin doesn’t go into specific names of the Manhattan mommies, but there’s plenty of detail to keep you engaged. It’s not a reality show; it is a study; it is a learning experience. If Martin’s point was to build empathy, it’s not there. She was/is part of this group. Yes, she went through ordeals, especially effecting her own health and her unborn child’s health, but it is hard for the reader to have empathy for someone spending $10,000 for a single plate of food. Again, it is an entertaining study.
What I most appreciate from this book, though, is how surprised I was at its theme. It’s not just “oh look at these silly rich people”; it is more of how we are the same, no matter the social status or size of our imported leather, gilded wallets. We seek belonging and social support. And while the Upper East Side Mommies Club might look different—and they are—than the group of moms on a blanket in some small town, Midwestern city park: the human needs are about the same.
Thanks for reading my review. You may want to check out some of the other reviews on Amazon, too: Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir