‘Emotional Baggage Claim’: a love letter to friendship

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Wisdom and charm and humor.

Lots and lots of humor.

That’s what you’ll find in “Meet Me At Emotional Baggage Claim” (St. Martin’s Press), the latest memoir/column collection of the mother-and-daughter writing team of Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella.

When Lisa launched a column in The Philadelphia Inquirer — as a sideline to her bestselling mysteries and suspense novels — she said one of her goals was to try to fill in the gap left by the death of the wonderful Erma Bombeck.

Newspaper columns — like much of the world — tend to be dominated by the concerns of men, and Lisa saw a need for a weekly place where newspaper readers could get a glimpse into the lives and concerns of women through an honest, week-by-week account of the life of one particular woman.

“Chick Wit” was an immediate hit, and as the column developed, Lisa came up with the great idea of adding her smart and funny writer-daughter Francesca to the mix on a regular basis.

Without any grand game plan at work, the columns have added up to four books about the great pleasure — and challenge — of true friendship between a parent and child in adulthood.

As Lisa writes in the first section, “Precious few books are devoted to a mother’s relationship with her adult child, which is crazy, because these bonds become more important, not less, as time goes on.”

I know that some parents try to be “friends” with their children while the kids are still at home, living under house rules, but the truth is that a real friendship has to be between equals and that only happens with your parents after you go out in the world on your own.

Francesca describes this shift well near the end of the new book: “Maybe the main thing about our relationship that will change is the direction. When you were raising me, you had to tell me, teach me, guide me. Now that I’m an adult, let me be the one to reach to you. And you can trust that I always will.”

If you’re lucky, the combination of history plus love can equal the tightest friendship of your life, and that’s what we have been let in on in the four terrific books that Lisa and Francesca have given us so far.

“Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim” charts major life changes and crises — the anxiety of having your home broken into, facing major surgery that is going to impede your movement for many weeks — as well as the seemingly small pleasures in life that can add up to that elusive thing we call “happiness” (going to the movies together, sharing a love of trashy TV, talking about some silly little thing on the phone).

It’s hard to imagine a better holiday gift for your mother or daughter (or father or son) than this extended love letter to the importance of family and friendship.

(Here’s an excerpt from the audio version of “Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim”:

http://www.antbearaudio.com/laura/Scottoline_Emotional_Baggage_Claim-webclip.mp3)

Joe Meyers

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