<b>Her daughter's keeper</b> Some psychologists say parents who feel terrible about every bad thing that happens to their child are suffering from something called omnipotent guilt. That concept is explored with sympathy and humor in <b>A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity</b> by Kathleen Gilles Seidel, a wife and mother with a doctorate in English literature from John Hopkins. In this modern-day tale with echoes of Jane Austen's work, Seidel pinpoints how certain social issues affect the lives of affluent people. The novel centers on four mothers who are unapologetic about not only feeling their daughters' pain, but also fighting their daughters' battles. In a world where old money collides with new money, parents compete fiercely to ensure their daughters attend the right school, appear at the right social events and make the right friends. However, these four friends quickly learn that when one gets involved in playground politics, kid stuff isn't always fun.

When Lydia Meadows trades in her career as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., to become a full-time housewife and mother, she thinks her life will be less complicated. Wrong. Her first clue that life is about to change is the moment she sees her 11-year-old daughter, Erin, and her three best friends dressed alike on the first day of sixth grade at their private school. Lydia realizes together the girls have achieved something she could never reach as a preteen girl: popularity. This should have been good news, but instead, her daughter's popularity, and what happens when it is threatened, causes Lydia to obsess over Erin's social activities and nearly ruins Lydia's relationships with her three best friends. Eventually, Lydia learns that sometimes it's necessary to allow children to fight and win their own battles. <b>A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity</b> is written with the tenderness, affection and insight that only a mother can muster. <i>Tanya S. Hodges writes from Nashville.</i>

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