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I Heart My In-Laws    by Dina Koutas Poch order for
I Heart My In-Laws
by Dina Koutas Poch
Order:  USA  Can
Owl, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Rheta Van Winkle

The title is a tip-off. Any title that has a heart in it cannot be taken too seriously, and I Heart My In-Laws, though it's purported to be a guidebook to girlfriends, fiancÚs and wives, is a funny book. There's a lot of exaggeration and teasing, and a tiny bit of serious advice too. But, for the most part, this would be a good book for the targeted audience to sit down with, prepared to relax a little and laugh at themselves, their sweeties, and all those new in-law relatives that come with the sweeties. Men will not laugh as much as women will. Such quotes as 'Don't worry, they're going to love you!' and 'Any time is fine to meet my family. Does it matter?' are so clueless that a woman would never utter them. We women all know that we're walking on a tightrope when we meet those in-laws, and the way we feel, look, and present ourselves at that first meeting are crucial, absolutely vital to how we're going to get along with those people for the rest of our lives.

But calm down, says the author, Dina. She can help you through those first rough moments, as well as many later ones. From chapters headed meet the baggage through such important subjects as the holiday scramble, bon voyage, the all-important for better, for worse, and forever to the final Sharing your bundle of joy, Dina has many examples and suggestions for the best way to handle the situation. She doesn't limit herself to the mother-in-law or father-in-law. She brings in the whole big, messy family of brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents and all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. My favorite is 'the in-law you like better than your own parent: finally, a new set of parents to disappoint.'

Dina sprinkles quotes from other women throughout the book, but her own experiences seem to take precedence. Each chapter starts with a quote culled from the author's own diary - which she swears are real quotes. She reassures us at the end of the book that her in-laws are okay with the quotes and the book, and that she gets along well with her husband's family. One of her entertaining quotes starts by saying her mother-in-law is a talented Beat poet. This is part of her mother-in-law's poem:
'Do you know you have potato salad in the fridge?
Why do you have potato salad in the fridge?
Are you going to eat this potato salad?
Can I eat it?

I've been married for many years and have a pretty good relationship with most of my in-laws, and I could laugh at situations that reminded me of my own family, as well as potential future problems should my children ever get around to settling down, getting married and producing grandchildren. I must admit that I had a lot of sympathy for the in-law parents in the last bundle of joy chapter. At some point, every woman I know seems to have accumulated all these cute little grandkids, and I'm getting jealous. All in all, though, I did enjoy this entertaining look at what people go through when and after sonny brings home his sweetie to meet the parents.

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