A "gorgeous" (New York Times) memoir that braids the evolution of one of America's most iconic branding campaigns with the stirring tales of the women who lived behind its facade - told by the inheritor of their stories.
A New York Times Editors' Choice
One of People Magazine's Best Books of Summer
An Amazon Best Book of the Month
An Indie Next Pick
A Real Simple Best Book of 2018
In 1899, Allie Rowbottom's great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege - but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments.
More than 100 years after that deal was struck, Allie's mother Mary was diagnosed with the same incurable cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother's life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the "Jell-O curse" and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family's past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of Jell-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not. JELL-O GIRLS is the liberation of that story.
A gripping examination of the dark side of an iconic American product and a moving portrait of the women who lived in the shadow of its fractured fortune, JELL-O GIRLS is a family history, a feminist history, and a story of motherhood, love and loss. In crystalline prose Rowbottom considers the roots of trauma not only in her own family, but in the American psyche as well, ultimately weaving a story that is deeply personal, as well as deeply connected to the collective female experience.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Picture one of those faux-vintage magnets that shows a demure woman saying something snarky about tending the home fires—that’s Jell-O Girls. Allie Rowbottom’s book is part memoir, part biography of her mother, and part American history. Rowbottom’s family bought the Jell-O company four generations back, and she follows both the brand’s story and her family history; she’s particularly sharp about the dark times when women were ignored, belittled, and used as marketing tools.. Rowbottom is coolheaded and deeply wise in the way she exposes the slippery underbelly of a totally American food that’s comforting, familiar, and almost universally associated with easy good cheer.