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Publisher's Summary

National Best Seller

One of the Best Books of the Year:

  • Vogue
  • Forbes
  • BookPage
  • New York Post

“I have not been as profoundly moved by a book in years.” (Jodi Picoult)

Even after she left home for Hollywood, Emmy-nominated TV writer Bess Kalb saved every voicemail her grandmother Bobby Bell ever left her. Bobby was a force - irrepressible, glamorous, unapologetically opinionated. Bobby doted on Bess; Bess adored Bobby. Then, at 90, Bobby died. 

But in this debut memoir, Bobby is speaking to Bess once more, in a voice as passionate as it ever was in life. Recounting both family lore and family secrets, Bobby brings us four generations of indomitable women and the men who loved them. There’s Bobby’s mother, who traveled solo from Belarus to America in the 1880s to escape the pogroms, and Bess’ mother, a 1970s rebel who always fought against convention. But it was Bobby and Bess who always had the most powerful bond: Bobby is her granddaughter’s fiercest supporter, giving Bess unequivocal love, even if sometimes of the toughest kind. 

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me marks the creation of a totally new, virtuosic form of memoir: a reconstruction of a beloved grandmother’s words and wisdom to tell her family’s story with equal parts poignancy and hilarity.

©2020 Bess Kalb (P)2020 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“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) 

“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, author of A Spark of Light)
 

“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. As we Jews say, the memory of Bobby is a blessing to Kalb, and now, thankfully, to all of us.” (Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!)

What listeners say about Nobody Will Tell You This But Me

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  • Kirsten H.
  • 2020-04-17

It might be me

I just didn’t get the appeal of this book. I felt trapped in someone else’s house and they wouldn’t stop talking! Not my cup of tea.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Susie Moskowitz
  • 2020-12-24

A Beautiful story

Bess captures not only her grandmother but a generation of grandmothers. Very well done. A delightful read/listen.

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  • Pamela Corriveau
  • 2020-12-16

This was such an inspiring, loving and funny book

I loved Bess Kalb’s narration of this book. I didn’t realize it was the author reading it til I listened to the credits and kept thinking this actress is great! Thank u Bess for sharing your beautiful story with all of us. Bobbi was a true and loving character.

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  • Diane
  • 2020-11-29

Great Story!

Just loved this book. It was so fresh, real. A beautiful story. It was read so well. I felt like I know them all. A blessing to have a grandmother and granddaughter relationship so beautiful. What writing talent Bess has.

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  • Jason Nataupsky
  • 2020-11-13

It’s like every Jewish Nana talking through Bess Kalb’s stories

This book is everything. Honestly, I think because Bess Kalb speaks her own words it comes out on audible that much better. It’s like listening to my own Nana. The oral history is so heartwarming. Just buy it, you won’t regret it!

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  • tasha hoang
  • 2020-11-09

Such a cute story

This is such a cute sorry and the narrator was amazing. I founds this book on Nigella’s Instagram and then I listened to the sample and I was sold.

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  • Sally A Sweeney
  • 2020-11-03

I laughed, I cried...

I felt this in my heart. Thank you for sharing (and narrating), Bess Kalb. Well done.

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  • Melissa Wildes
  • 2020-10-27

You will laugh and cry!

This was a great story. For anyone who has or had a grandmother in their life that they are / were close too, you will relate to much of the tales in this book. At least I did. I heard my grandmother when I was listening to this book. I would recommend this 110% and give it 5+ stars!

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  • Minneapolis listener
  • 2020-10-23

A treat

Warm, lovely, absorbing. Beautifully presented. Bobbie would be an especially hard grandmother to lose, even though her voice remains.

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  • Alvy77
  • 2020-10-22

Best book that understands me 😉

As a Jewish woman I loved the book but as someone who still eats bacon I still love the book, thank you for making me cry and laugh because I understand and still love!!!!!