Double Time by Jane Roper – Book Review

Double Time: How I Survived – and Mostly Thrived – Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins by Jane Roper
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan

After trying in vain to have a baby and enduring fertility treatments, Jane Roper finally learned that she was pregnant. With twins. Following the initial moment of panic, Roper – a writer and reader – searched for a book that was, at the time, nonexistent: a memoir of the first years with multiples. Roper’s own first few years with her twin daughters were filled with many exceptionally joyful times, but also with renewed depression and professional hardships.

Double Time is a funny and insightful look into life raising twins. Much of what Roper discusses will be relevant to all parents, life with young children viewed through Roper’s wry sense of humor:

After extracting what cat food I could from Elsa’s mouth – not that it mattered, really, but the idea of one’s child eating horsemeat and fish eyeballs and whatever else is in dry cat food isn’t terribly pleasant, especially when, as Alastair pointed out, we hadn’t formally introduced those foods yet – I grabbed the dishes and went into the kitchen to find a towel to mop up the water. –p. 109

Of course, Roper also brings in the challenges that are unique to parenting twins, or children very close in age in general, such as the inability to be in two places at once as twin babies grow into toddlers, and both decide to engage in risky or disgusting behavior at the same time.

As the soon-to-be mother of twins, I found Double Time to be an honest and open look at twin parenthood. It is reassuring, even when Roper discusses the challenges, because she explains how she and her husband, Alastair, were able to meet those challenges without loss of life or limb. Her approach is descriptive, rather than prescriptive, which is also reassuring as she shows a picture of a family making it and being happy, rather than an unattainable picture of familial perfection. Towards the end of the book, she says something that sums up perfectly why Double Time is so reassuring, when responding to the eternal ‘how do you do it?’ question:

Of course the answer to all of these questions – in any context – is that raising twins is not a matter of being some kind of superhuman wonder parent. We simply don’t have a choice. We just do it…. Not always well, and certainly not always with the amount of patience and perspective or consistency we’d like. But we do it. –p. 259

I would absolutely and unequivocally recommend Double Time to new parents of twins, but I think many parents – perhaps mothers in particular – will resonate with Roper’s experiences. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, via Netgalley.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) – Book Review

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess
Published by Amy Einhorn/Putnam Books, an imprint of Penguin

If you’ve spent much time on the internet, you have probably run across Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, at one point or another. She’s known for her picture of Wil Wheaton collating paper, her strange fascination with stuffed animals dressed up in odd clothes, and her openness about battling anxiety and depression. If you’ve only read her blog casually, though, you may find yourself more perplexed than amused by the humor in some of her posts.

Luckily her new memoir, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir works whether you are already a fan of Lawson’s blog or not. In fact, in giving the reader a thorough introduction to who exactly Lawson is and how her mind works, it is a strong possibility that Let’s Pretend This Never Happened will give readers a greater appreciation of what happens on The Bloggess.

Take, for example, her obsession with animals dressed up in people clothes. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened moves chronologically through Lawson’s life, and the first major revelation is the fact that her father was a taxidermist. Okay, so she took her father’s passion and has her own quirky take on it, you may think. This love takes on a whole new dimension, though, when you read Lawson’s anecdote about the dead squirrel her father put in a snack box and then used as a puppet to surprise her and her sister. Lawson’s life is memoir-worthy, because, perhaps scarily, the squirrel puppet incident is not unique, nor is it the strangest and most dramatic thing that has ever happened to her.

When I read these stories to friends, I’m always shocked when they stop me to ask, “Wait, is that true?” during the most accurate of all stories. The things that have been changed are mainly names and dates, but the stories you think couldn’t possibly have happened? Those are the real ones. As in real life, the most horrible stories are the ones that are truest. And, as in real life, the reverse is true as well. –p. 2 (footnote 2)

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is, in short, hilarious. Lawson shows a brilliant ability to be open and vulnerable, while at the same time poking fun at herself at every possible juncture. Her writing is engaging, but her personality is even more so. You will find yourself so wrapped up in Lawson’s life that you won’t want to put the book down, nor will you want it to end. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Journal of Best Practices by David Finch – Book Review

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome and One Man’s Quest to be a Better Husband by David Finch
Published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

When your wife bursts into tears – unhappy tears – as you’re celebrating your third wedding anniversary, it typically means your marriage isn’t going well. After that, plus another two years of resentment and lack of communication, David Finch is surprised when his wife lovingly wraps her arms around him, and suggests he come down and join her in her office in the basement when he is finished with his evening routine. Once down there, she begins to give him a quiz, a quiz which seems to describe him perfectly. It isn’t until she is finished that she reveals that this quiz is an online diagnostic for Asperger Syndrome, which David fairly conclusively seems to have. Instead of being a blow, however, this news seems inspiring to David: it isn’t that he’s just a bad husband and father, his brain functions a different way than the brains of most of the people around him, which hinders his understanding of those people. Although David can’t simply take a pill for his Asperger Syndrome to mitigate it, as he can for his ADD, but he can begin to change his habits, based on an understanding of how his brain chemistry differs from that of the people around him. It is from this, and his quest to finally become a better husband and father that the Journal of Best Practices is born.

The Journal of Best Practices is a fascinating book, not least because of how honest and self-deprecating Finch is. He is remarkably open about his own foibles and shortcomings. The steps he takes to overcome them are often humorous and always interesting. This is not a traditional, chronological memoir, but an anecdote-based series of experiences and attempts to overcome obstacles.

Really, Finch’s method of self-improvement for the good of his relationships is one that could be successful for anyone, whether you have Asperger Sydrome or not. His desire to be the person his family needs him to be is inspiring, and his story has wide appeal, whether you are interested in marriage, Asperger Syndrome, or whether you just wish your husband would would help get the kids ready in the morning once in awhile.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, at the GLIBA trade show.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Maman’s Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan – Book Review

Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan
Published by Algonquin Books, an imprint of Workman Pub

From the publisher:

For Donia Bijan’s family, food has been the language they use to tell their stories and to communicate their love. In 1978, when the Islamic revolution in Iran threatened their safety, they fled to California’s Bay Area, where the familiar flavors of Bijan’s mother’s cooking formed a bridge to the life they left behind. Now, through the prism of food, award-winning chef Donia Bijan unwinds her own story, finding that at the heart of it all is her mother, whose love and support enabled Bijan to realize her dreams.

I was expecting Bijan’s memoir to focus more directly on her mother based on the title. There was definitely a strong thread about her parents and their life in Iran and attempts to adjust to life in America. However, more than anything, Maman’s Homesick Pie is about Bijan herself, how she came to create her unique blend of Persian, American, and French food.

Despite Maman’s Homesick Pie not being what I expected, it was still a lovely, heartfelt memoir. It is a slim tome, so Bijan does not always go into great depth of detail about people, places, or events, but what she does write is so evocative, that the sparseness of some of the details doesn’t really matter.

Foodies and those who love stories about identity will greatly enjoy Maman’s Homesick Pie.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher for BOOK CLUB.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Orchard by Theresa Weir – Audiobook Review

The Orchard by Theresa Weir, narrated by Ellen Archer
Published in audio by Hachette Audio, published in print by TK

Synopsis:

Theresa Weir had a tough life as a child, and things didn’t really become any easier when she married Adrian Curtis and joined him on his family’s apple farm. Derided as an outsider – particularly by Adrian’s mother – Theresa must struggle to find her place in this world, even as she has significant reservations about the use of pesticides.

Thoughts on the story:

The Orchard had a bit of a slow start, mostly because of the slightly odd timeline. The book is nearly half over before Adrian and Theresa wed, even though they know each other for only a few months before marrying (this portion includes a lot of flashbacks to Theresa’s childhood, which are edifying, but perhaps not enough to justify drawing this part out so much). The second half of the book comprises the entire rest of Theresa and Adrian’s life together, which gives some events a rushed feel. Suddenly, the couple has two children, next thing you know, Theresa is writing a book, and then is a published author. Still, despite what is an initially puzzling timeline, Weir has created a story with power and heart. Both a very personal memoir, and an exploration of the place of pesticides in farming.

 

Thoughts on the audio production:

Ellen Archer did a wonderful job conveying Weir’s life. For my full audio review, please see my Audiofile Magazine review.

Overall:

A moving book, very well narrated. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Audiofile.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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