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Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A true (as told to me) story Hardcover – March 17, 2020
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“I delighted in Bobby’s joy. I cried twice.” —Miranda Popkey, The New York Times Book Review
"A poignant and funny look at four generations of women." —Stephanie Merry, The Washington Post
"A unique take on a close daughter-grandmother relationship; a beautiful tribute to Kalb's grandmother, Bobby. Told in her hilarious grandmother’s voice, Bess’s memoir chronicles her family’s story and the love story between these two fabulous women." —Zibby Owens, Good Morning America
"Reliably funny...poignant on the aftermath of loss. Written from the sometimes acerbic, sometimes sweet and always laser-sharp perspective of [Kalb's grandmother,] Bobby Bell ... in between are loving recollections of their relationship, including snippets of conversations and voicemails and a steady supply of life advice."—Chris Barton, Los Angeles Times
“I have never read anything that feels truer to my experience of having a Jewish grandmother than Nobody Will Tell You This But Me. Bess Kalb’s memoir is told from the perspective of her grandmother, Bobby, and Bess captures her voice beautifully. Funny, heartwarming, deeply moving.”
—Emily Burack, Hey Alma
"A love story that resonates across generations . . . Grandma Bobby's personality radiates from the page. Like a set of nesting dolls, those stories begin as Grandma Bobby recalls the life story of her own mother, [whose] profound vulnerability—and genius at survival—marks the matrilineal line. With determination, creative thinking and practical planning, Bobby helps lift herself and her family out of their gritty working-class roots and into a comfortable lifestyle she eagerly shares with her granddaughter, Bess. The two were instant soulmates . . . The way Kalb honors her grandmother is a testament to their connection. Original, moving, and funny." —Alison Buckholtz, The Florida Times-Union
“Funny, tender and incredibly moving . . . Both a family history and a celebration of the bond between grandmother and granddaughter—a book that gives you a solid cathartic weep and a renewed sense of joy in family ties.” —Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post
“I have not been as profoundly moved by a book in years. If you have a mother or grandmother, or ARE a mother or a grandmother, this is required reading. Bess Kalb's fictional-factual tribute to the relationship she had with her grandmother—the way her history was passed to her by blood, along with bright memories and Jewish guilt and fierce, fierce love—could have been my own story. When I stop crying, I'm calling my mother immediately and making her read it.” —Jodi Picoult
“Tender, funny, fresh, and unconventional, Nobody Will Tell You This But Me manages to make something new and wonderful out of a family memoir. Kalb has a light, lovely touch and a big heart, which combine to make this book irresistible.” —Susan Orlean
“I am in love with the all-consuming, hilarious, primal relationship between Bess Kalb and her late grandmother, Bobby Bell. This memoir made my heart swell, my eyes alight in amazement and joy. Bobby regales her granddaughter with her infinite wisdom, which is almost always over the top and a little bit critical but delivered with love's exuberance.” —Al Woodworth, Amazon Book Review
“Lively and fascinating, funny yet poignant. There are laughs galore throughout the book . . . [yet] Kalb processes her own grief as she writes, sharing how she reacted in the days following her grandmother’s death. Kalb pulls off [a] daring approach brilliantly—in a bold stroke of literary bravura, she has turned the formula for writing memoirs inside out, bringing her grandmother’s distinctive voice back to life and sharing it with a legion of lucky readers . . . Enthralling.” —Alice Cary, BookPage [starred review]
“Nobody Will Tell You This But Me is precisely that—a book no one other than Bess Kalb would think to create. It’s an invented form that has bursts of comic lines as good as in any movie, and pathos as deep as in any novel. I love this book.” —Mike Birbiglia, author of Sleepwalk with Me and The New One
“We are the stories we leave behind, and so we must depend on the storytellers who carry forward our memories. 'Grandma Bobby' gave Bess Kalb gifts of love and language (and lunches at the Plaza!), and in this deeply moving and powerful book, Bess repays her in full with a magnificent act of conjuring. Bobby, and the line of stubborn women of which she was the keystone, lives on in this act of love. This book made me miss my own grandmother, who didn’t have Bobby’s style, but was just as fierce. I wish I had listened to her as carefully as Bess did to Bobby.” —Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!
"Thank you Bess Kalb for giving us Bobby. She is hilarious and honest and heartbreaking and completely alive in these pages—and I love her." —Gary Janetti, author of Do You Mind If I Cancel?
“An endearing, bittersweet, entertainingly fresh take on the family memoir. Kalb employs an unconventional yet highly effective and charming narrative, channeling the voice and personality of her grandmother, Bobby Bell, who snares readers' attention right from the first, [as] Kalb sharply reimagines her inner thoughts and remembers her fiercely nurturing criticism. The narrative skillfully captures Bobby's wit, worldly advice, well-intentioned meddling, and enduring love for her granddaughter. Readers familiar with the Bobby in their own families will appreciate the stoic overprotectiveness and exasperation that come with being a parent and grandparent. As the book progresses, the story becomes both sad and poignant—the photos and the imagined conversations make for sometimes heartbreaking reading, honoring a beloved grandmother’s legacy.” —Kirkus [starred review]
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I love how Kalb approached her story. Told in the voice of her grandmother, speaking to her. From recalled conversations, voicemails, and often repeated stories. The two had the most magical, loving, and honest relationship from the day baby Bess was born. Her grandmother, known as Bobby, lived a charmed, long life, but came from humble beginnings and never forgot her roots. Bobby’s effusive sense of humor, blunt manner, and loving advice left an indelible impression on her granddaughter. Kalb captured their relationship with every bit of tenderness without sugarcoating their family’s history.
It is a gift to learn about the generations that preceded Bess and how each one influenced the next. And will continue to do so. Most of all, what a joy to bask in Bobby’s light. Thank you for sharing her, Bess.
A truly touching and moving tribute.
This story brought me to tears on multiple occasions and even caused me to laugh and cry simultaneously. The hope and joy that this novel gave me for the world in a dark time is overwhelming. I was unable to put the book down and finished it in two nights.
Bobby and Bessie travel through all of the emotions that make us human. They are never scared to be as they are with each other. 'Nobody Will Tell You This But Me' is encouraging me to think positively about what a closeness between family members could be and is even pushing me to consider way in which I could bring more open communication and friendship based love into my familial relationships. I would take the bad to experience the good that is portrayed in this novel, any day. If you are looking to sprinkle some beauty onto your life, I can't recommend this novel more.
I truly need to hear Bess's words as spoken to her by her Grandma many many times over the course of her life, "If the earth is cracking behind you, you put one foot in front of the other."
We are all doing that right now to the best of our human ability and I am thankful this book could help me see that.