Jell-O Girls: A Family History by Allie Rowbottom (Review by Jessica Natsuko)
1 min read
If you’re searching for a wholesome, warm-hearted read, then unfortunately, this engrossing tell-all is not the book for you. Rowbottom’s “Jell-O Girls: A Family History” is a brave, brash, and gripping memoir spanning across three generations of matriarchs that lie silently behind one of America’s most recognizable brands. Unapologetically feminist, and occasionally bitter, Rowbottom’s story is rife with imagery, and manages to seamlessly weave pieces of history, popular culture, sociology, and consumerism with her own personal narrative. The story is at once deeply personal, yet still so universally experienced that one cannot help but empathize with the quiet desperation and struggle to define what it means to be a woman, mother, daughter, and wife.
Rowbottom delicately peels back the layers of intergenerational repression and trauma, and strives valiantly to tell the stories of the women in her life before her who were unable to do so themselves. Her ability to move between all three generations of women is seamless, and achingly honest. She tackles complicated truths head-on, and isn’t afraid to call things out the way they are; there’s no spoonful of sugar to make things easier to swallow.
The once-virtuous, sugary-sweet and fun-loving pantry staple takes on an entirely new persona though the many revelations brought forward by Rowbottom, and I can almost guarantee that after finishing this book, you’ll never be able look at another box of jell-o the same way again.