4 star reviews, contemporary fiction, Women's Fiction

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

4/5 stars

I was almost done with this book and I thought: I am so grateful that Abbi Waxman has another book coming out in July (and I actually have that book in my Netgalley queue right now!!).

I absolutely love Abbi Waxman’s unique, quirky voice. She is witty and funny and sarcastic and with that she tackles difficult topics. She shows how we have to keep breathing and walking and moving forward and laughing even when life is hard and messy.

The Garden of Small Beginnings is the story of Lillian, whose husband died in a car accident in front of their house almost four years previous. She had an infant and a toddler at the time. She fell apart. She had to be hospitalized. Thank God for her sister who swept in and took care of everything. She and her sister are super close (as I was reading the book, I kept hoping that my girls will have a relationship like Lillian and her sister Rachel do when they are adults).

Lillian is an illustrator and even though the textbook publisher she works for is going under, she manages to land a job illustrating an encyclopedia of flowers and vegetables for a seed company. She agrees to take a gardening class taught by one of the seed company’s owners. She can bring her daughters and her sister wants to tag along, too. At the class they meet an assortment of people: a retired banker, a surfer, two retired teachers and a single mom from the projects. The teacher takes a liking a Lillian and she realizes that she is attracted to him as well, but she is not sure if she is ready to date yet. Together with their teacher, they form a bond, helping each other plant gardens at each of their homes, and being there for each other through big life events. It made me long to take a gardening class and hope I would become friends with all of the other participants.

If you have a sense of humor, you will like this book. If you are a mother, you will like this book. If you like books about messy life stuff, you will like this book. I really enjoyed it and I would not mind being friends with Abbi Waxman — I bet she is a blast to hang out with!!

4 star reviews, Book reviews, Women's Fiction

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

4/5 stars

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Frances is a stay-at-home mom who likes to take care of people – she takes care of her whole LA neighborhood – and one day she accidentally catches her neighbor having an affair.  At first, I was like, who cares?  But the writing in this book was so good and I LOVED Frances’s funny, self-deprecating character and there was just so much honesty about competitive moms and bratty kids and drunk husbands, that I couldn’t put it down and before I knew it, I DID CARE.  There was A LOT MORE going on here than I originally thought.  There is a lot of honesty about life in this book, told in a very funny way.  I highly recommend it.

* * * * *

The last few weeks of summer, I really didn’t read that much.  I was so busy with family and friends, getting in beach time and making the most of the last few weeks of summer. Why does summer seem to just go so fast?  It seems like one day I am talking to a friend about all the things we will do this summer – beach days, bonfires at the beach, backyard bbqs, drinking margaritas on the deck while listening to Jimmy Buffett, concerts in the park…and the next thing I know it’s Labor Day weekend and we have done maybe half those things if we are lucky.  But we did have a great summer, for that I am grateful!

If I am totally honest, the other reason that I have not been reading as much as I usually do is that a friend recommended I try watching Harlots and I am totally hooked!  Like obsessed!  It’s kind of a weird show to admit that you love, but there you go.  I am fascinated by a world in which 1 in 5 women were prostitutes, where a mother sells her daughter’s virginity and looks for wealthy “keepers” for her daughters while they turn tricks for her.  I can’t decide if I like Margaret Wells or not.  I despise Lydia Quigley and I love Nancy Birch.  It’s just so good.

In addition to Harlots, my husband and I were obsessed last fall with Ozark and we are once again obsessed.  The new season is not as good as the first, imo.  I liked Laura Linney’s character in the first season so much and I don’t like her now.  Did anyone else think there was a nod to Love Actually when she was talking about her brother and his mental illness and how difficult he was?  I almost thought it was a continuation of Love Actually for a moment!

My girls started their college classes.  They are both attending community college, which we thought was a good transition after homeschooling.  Neither of them really knows what they want to do yet.  Also, I have friends who teach at big universities who have said that community college is so much better for the core classes because there are only 30-40 other students in the core classes at community college, whereas at big universities they are taught in lecture halls with hundreds of students.  So that has been an adjustment for all of us.

We’ve been watching a lot of movies lately.  I am thrilled that the girls still watch movies with us.  We have watched Adrift – which was excellent; Tag – which was hilarious; and, of course, The Book Club.  Our girls watched Blockers together, but said it wasn’t appropriate to watch with parents, they did say it was good, so we want to get that one night.

My husband has also been asking me out on dates, which has been really fun.  The girls have late classes on Tuesday and Thursday and are not home for dinner.  My husband has been calling me in the morning and asking if I want to go get sushi or go to our favorite vegan place or go for a late day hike.  It’s been really fun!!  I feel almost like we are dating again!!

Fall is my favorite season and I am so looking forward to making soups and stews and wearing sweaters.  I am looking forward to crisp air and the leaves changing.  We have several hikes planned.  And I am looking forward to reading a lot more!!