The Best Bad Reviews of Jill Zarin’s Book, Secrets of a Jewish Mother

It’s the fourth night of Chanukah — we’re halfway there! During the Festival of Lights, give yourself a gift and take some time to cozy up with a good book. Might we suggest Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Family, Real Love by Gloria Kamen, Lisa Wexler and Jill Zarin? When read forward, it gives you pithy tips on parenting and life, and when read backwards in a darkened room, it summons a glowing portal to Zarin Fabrics where Jill and Gay Brad will torture you for all eternity. Truly, a book for all occasions.

SoaJM holds a special place in the extensive lore of Jill Zarin as the central text of Amazongate, one of many offscreen scandals centred around Jill’s pettiness, persecution complex, and obsession with lashing out at her haters. In this delightful online incident, Jill took on the mantle of “Susan Saunders” to write comments bigging up her own book and lashing out at those who dared to leave negative reviews. Her cover was blown when people checked out Susan’s profile and found wishlists titled “For Bobby” and “For Ally.” Whoops!

This wouldn’t be Jill’s last foray into astroturfing Amazon reviews, as two weeks later she assumed the name “J. Samples,” under which she wrote negative reviews about Alex and Simon’s and Bethenny’s books, and praised LuAnn’s single. For a sample (lol!) of the tone, here’s what she had to say about Silex’s magnum opus, the elegantly-named Little Kids, Big City: Tales from a Real House in New York City (With Lessons on Life and Love for Your Own Concrete Jungle):

“I had thought I had seen everything. But to see these two clowns write a book about parenting is hysterical! Their cast mate Bethanny Frankel once said of them and I quote “These two would climb through a vent to get into a good party!” Well, it seems that they followed Ms. Frankel through a vent and crawled their way into a publishing house! How else could this have gotten published? Let’s review. Their kids are animals, appear dumb and disoriented, lack manners and are unkempt. They have also been seen on their television show, tearing apart a party at a lovely eatery and climbing up and biting the Countess Luann’s leg! And I am suppose to listen to anything these “parents” have to say?? As for these parents, they are strange, sexual deviants, and are broke. They are self claimed to have met on CRAIGSLIST for a SEXUAL encounter! They reside in Crooklyn, New York, in a townhouse that could be used for an S&M movie. Gay husband included! Scary stuff. I honestly hated this book. Chapter 6 was worthless and the parts that say they are “lessons” are a joke. The writing is poor and the book itself is poorly edited. Very little worthwhile material. Don’t open the cover folks, Johan might pop out and bite you too!!!”

Now, let it be known, LuAnn’s music is excellent and I don’t care what J.Samp had to say about Bethenny, a cook who is full of knives, but I will not have the Van Kempenseseseses’ parenting impugned. Not on my watch.

So given Jill’s extensive experience in the oeuvre of Amazon reviews, it feels apt to take a look at what the people have to say about Secrets of a Jewish Mother. Spoiler alert: if the reviews are to be believed, literally everyone found this for a dollar at a flea market and instantly regretted the purchase, making it the literary equivalent of the puzzle box from the Hellraiser movies.


I have never picked up such a waste of paper. I found the book on a chair at the airport terminal and since I had forgotten to pack a book, I decided to read this. Mistake!!!!! I found it much more pleasurable to just stare into space. I can see why someone just abandoned this book at the terminal, they probably still rue the day they spent money on this trash. – Amazon user Atticus.

Silly and Annoying
I knew this book was going to be a waste of money but thought that I might enjoy it anyway. After I purchased the book I watched an episode of RHONY that was basically a promo for the book with Jill at the skating rink debating whether or not to call Bethenny and her sister (co-author Gloria Kamen) gives a piece of staged sisterly advice that I’m sure was meant to engage the viewership in her wisdom but just sounded put-up and silly. The book continued on the same tack. As a fan of the show I kept watching Zarin and her behavior go downhill until she landed in the pile of PR poopy when she threatened the reviewer and her cat for a negative review and gave herself 5 stars over and over again under the guise of her maiden name and the accounts of family and friends. So over the top and so obviously Zarin. So now I have a copy of this book that I shouldn’t have bought in the first place. More fool me! – Amazon user Judith.

Terrible Terrible Terrible
One of the worst books ever written. I definitely lost a few brain cells thanks to this book. Almost wish I had a time machine to get back the wasted time reading this garbage. I’d have given 0 stars, but sadly that option doesn’t exist. The authors are spewing ridiculous advice. Thank the Lord, I didn’t pay for this book, I actually found it at a flea market on the one dollar ( $1.00) book table, and the vendor traded me for a cup of coffee from my baked goods table. Definitely not a fair trade. – Amazon user HamptonsHunnie.

Terrible Advice –Masked– as Good Advice
I was a fan of the Housewives of New York and for decades I’ve been a customer of Zarins Fabrics on Grand Street on the Lower East SIde, (which btw is dirty, dusty often and has a broken elevator) So, I was of course interested in this book.

I watched Jill and her plasticine Mom on TV talk the book up–but, then to read this trite nonsense–They objectify and diminish everyone. While using the term “sincerity” they offer cold and calculating advice. […] I liked Jill Zarin as a character to watch, love her new hairdo and color. However, this book is such a woeful piece of trash that pretends to be wisdom, I am truly offended by it and Jill and her Mom. Actually the whole show has turned into a shameless Infomerical for their various products and services so I’ve lost interest in it.

PS; Full disclosure, I also bougth the Countesses first book and Bethany’s too. Bethany’s book, although I like her the the least, actually had sold good advice on how to eat well, live a fast paced life and stay slim. The Countess’s book was just sort of silly. But Jill and her Mother and Sister have written a book that if they have any decency they will rethink and disown, instead of trying to sell it to us poor women who are looking for honest, loving clues on how to live a good and decent life, but to these women that seems to mean lots of money, at all costs. Very Dissappointed. – Amazon user Rowan.

One Star
Yikes the advice is so baddd – Amazon user Mike Querol.

Is this book a parody? Where’s Alan Funt?
[…] Want to “get” a man? – then you need fake lashes, big hair and red dress out. Don’t settle for less than you deserve – unless he makes good money. It’s better if he loves you more than you love him (where’s did I put my Love-O-Meter?) Great tips if your goal is a loveless marriage on Long Island Sound!

The rest of the tips were pretty strange and flaky – I suppose if you’re living off your parent’s dime and dating a dentist then you don’t care about taking your dinner home from a restaurant.

In between the “car crashes” was a lot of gossipy, syrupy stuff about growing up – I found these stories to be incredibly boring but I guess some people watch Nascar for the car wrecks too.

The more I read it the more I couldn’t believe this was a serious self-help book. Was this written by monkeys? Published by The Onion? I peeked behind the potted plant to see if there was a hidden camera.

Perhaps the title should be “Secrets of a Jewish Mother: how to make sure you and your daughters are attractive and financially secure but still as miserable and petty as you are.” […] – Amazon user Y. R. Wu.

Those who know do not say, and those who say do not know
[…] The overall feel of the book is that it’s from the point of view of people who do not view others as being valuable (unless you’re an eligible bachelor with $$). In fact, people described in the book (in their stories) are most often portrayed as outsiders who don’t understand them & whose actions and feelings don’t have validity. For example, Lisa tells a story of a girl who wasn’t worth her time while she was alive (the tone again was hostile) but when she dies, Lisa went to the funeral & the family members got angry with her for ignoring the girl all her life- which she evidently thought was wrong of them to feel (and seemed unaware of how high emotions run at a funeral, esp. one for a younger person). Gloria tells a story about how her group of girlfriends dropped her & the conflict was never resolved- with the message being that they (collectively) must have been wrong and she, right. Jill tells a story about a falling out she had w/ a friend & again there was no resolution (just a tacit implication that he wasn’t worth it anyway). It would appear that the average person is more socially skillful, could have handled these situations better, and probably learned more from the experiences than these authors did. All in all the authors convey a message that is emotionally immature and severely lacking in human empathy. – Amazon user Jacinda.

Get a hobby!! And its not writing books!
Are you kidding me…I just wasted countless hours of my life reading the most brain and soul numbing book of my life. I would love to know who I can complain to so I could get back the wasted hours reading this so called “book”. What advice? What love? What family? Please, all I picked up was to be nasty, bitter, selfish and to use the art of mother guilt with you children.

I had heard so much about this book and looked forward reading it hoping it would bring a smile to my face, the only smile appeared when I read the last page and slammed the book together. I bought copies for my friends as a book club treat. The only treat was boxing all 15 copies back up and shipping them to Amazon for a return. If your wondering what I did with the copy I read. I went green and recycled.

Save yourself the time and the enviroment and skip this book. – Amazon user lovetoread.

Horrible book
One of the women in our office picked this book up at the $1.00 pile at the local flea market and shared it with five or six of us. Glad none of us paid for this horrible book and the flea market price would have been over-priced if it had been the original price. Appears she had nothing better to do than sit and write about nothing of value in the hopes of making money off her name. Please find one at the flea market if you must bore yourself with jibberish. If it had been possible, I would have left a quarter of a star and that is being nice and anyone submitting anything more than that is a friend or someone on the inside leaving those comments. Lets be honest about the reviews in all cases on so no one is mislead into purchasing trash…..this review process is here to help protect us, the consumer. – Amazon user PS.

Secrets of a Jewish Mother
Save your money. This book is trash. I could only get through 3/4 of the book before I literally threw it away. This book should be entitled, Secrets of a Maniac. – Amazon user Robert C. Brueckner.

So it seems possible, based on these reviews, that Jill Zarin and co. did not actually write a very good book, and that perhaps this tome should be taken as not representative of the archetypical Jewish mother, but rather the myopic views of a warped family where psychosis is currency. I, too, am shocked. On the other hand, maybe Susan Saunders is right and these people are all jealous haters and the book is good! Next time I’m at the dollar table of my local flea marker, where this book apparently proliferates, I’ll have to pick up a copy.

(No I won’t. Vampires can only prey on you if you invite them in.)

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