An Accidental Mother by Katherine Anne Kindred – Book Review

An Accidental Mother by Katherine Anne Kindred
Published by Unbridled Books

Kate Kindred was content with her childless life, fulfilled by her job and her dog. Still, she was perfectly happy to help out her boyfriend, Jim, with the logistics of raising his children, particularly his two-year-old son Michael, of whom he had custody. As Kate’s relationship with Jim progressed, her relationship with Michael – and to a lesser extent, his half-sister Elizabeth who lived primarily with her mother – progressed as well. Kate, Jim, and Michael spent six years living together as an unofficial family, and over time Michael began referring to Kate as his mother, and Kate felt for him a mother’s love, even asking Jim if she could formally adopt him. Eventually, the thing that mattered most in the world for Kate was that Jim promised to never deny her access to Michael, no matter what happened between them. Until he changed his mind.

An Accidental Mother is Kindred’s love letter to the boy who is her son, even if their kinship is neither biological nor legal. She leads the reader gradually through her relationship with Michael and Elizabeth, how they grew closer as they lived together and continued to capture each other’s hearts. The reader can tell just how genuine Kindred’s feelings of parenthood are, because every few chapters there is a collection of cute and memorable moments with the kids – the sort of things those without children complain about seeing too much on the Facebook walls of their friends who are parents.

A very short book, An Accidental Mother  is also an extremely compelling and heartbreaking book. In addition, it raises the question of what exactly makes someone a parent. If you live with a child for six years, care for him when he is sick, get up with him when he has a nightmare, help him with his homework Рand all of these things out of love, not the obligation of a job Рare you not his parent?

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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Bossypants by Tina Fey – Audiobook Review

Bossypants by Tina Fey, narrated by Tina Fey
Published in audio by Hachette Audio, published in print by Reagan Arthur Books, both imprints of Hachette

If you posted an audiobook review today, Monday June 6th, please leave your link in the Mr. Linky before midnight Central time (US) and you will be eligible to win a prize.

Synopsis:

Tina Fey is a smart, funny woman, a working mother. Before she was famous for her work on SNL – particularly playing Sarah Palin – she was a member of Second City and, before that, a young girl who had a lot of gay friends in summer theater.

In Bossypants, Fey touches on motherhood, feminism, working at SNL and 30 Rock, and her life growing up.

Thoughts on the story:

If you are expecting a deep treatise on feminism or working motherhood, you might be disappointed by Bossypants. Except I highly doubt you can stay disappointed for very long. Fey might not spend an inordinate amount of time or depth on any one topic, but every section of the book is rife with her trademark wit, and she hits every note beautifully, nary a joke falls flat.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Tina Fey is hilarious narrating her own life. For someone with the comic timing and delivery that she has, narrating your own memoir is an absolute must. Honestly, I simply can’t imagine any other narrator doing justice to Fey’s unique voice. The audio did mean missing the immediacy of seeing the pictures of Fey growing up, but Hachette included a pdf of all of the pictures along with the audiobook and Tina Fey references them so the listener knows when to when to check them out, or at least remembers the context when it is convenient to open the document. And huge plus for the audiobook? The fact that they were able to get the license to include the audio of the SNL skit where Tina Fey first played Sarah Palin. That alone makes it worth listening to.

Overall

Fey’s writing is sharp and smart enough that I imagine Bossypants must work quite well in print, but for the added emotion and humor of Tina narrating her own work, I must strongly recommend experiencing Bossypants in audio.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

Source: library.
* 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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Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mockett – Book Review

Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Matsuki Mockett
Published by Graywolf Press

Life is not easy for a single woman and her daughter in post-war Japan. Satomi and her mother are making a living, but Atsuko’s presence as a smart, engaging, unmarried woman is seen as threat to the other women in their small, rural community. As such, Atsuko and Satomi were always made to feel as outsiders, a situation that was perhaps not helped by Satomi’s status as a musical prodigy. Atsuko is determined that Satomi’s life will be richer and more fulfilling than her own has been, discouraging her from a domestic future in favor of a life that will incorporate Satomi’s artistic abilities. When the unexpected happens, however, Satomi must learn how to make a new life for herself, because the life she has known is gone. The story picks up again with Satomi’s daughter Rumi living in San Francisco, having never known the mother she believes is dead. As new people come into Rumi’s life, however, she finds herself forced to examine her past and learn about the mother who has always been notable only in her absence.

Picking Bones from Ash is a lovely story of identity, family, and fitting in, among other things. The title comes a passage – relatively early in the book, this really isn’t a spoiler – after Atsuko passes away in Satomi’s absence:

I had missed my mother’s cremation and so had not been present when Mineko, Chieko, and the rest of their family had stood around her still-hot remains to remove her bones from the ash. They would have used chopsticks to do this, culling only the most essential parts of her body and placing them inside an urn, which was then set inside a box. – p. 98

Not knowing anything about funerary practices in Japan, I found this passage both shocking and beautiful. The thought of a family gathering around the remains of a loved one and doing something so intensely personal as picking out the bones with chopsticks is somewhat mind boggling, but at the same time, what better way to reiterate the loving bond of family, that you take care of one another even after death. And yet, if this is your own mother, one who you loved dearly, how heartbreaking to have missed such a ritual, to have it attended to only by your stepsisters and their families.

The place of women in the world over the last 50 years, the relationships between mother and daughter and their effect on the relationships of the next generation, the interaction of East and West. Add these things to a compelling story and sympathetic characters and you have a great novel. You also have Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mockett. Recommended.

We will be discussing Picking Bones from Ash on March 22, 2011 at Linus’s Blanket.

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 Atlas of Love by Laurie Frankel – Book Review

The Atlas of Love by Laurie Frankel
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan

Janey has always had a thing for babies, ever since she was six and found an abandoned baby in the planter at a hotel with her grandmother. So when Jill, one of her best friends in grad school,¬† gets pregnant and the father doesn’t want to be involved, it seems like an obvious choice for Janey, Jill, and Katie to move in together and share parenting duties. Janey, Jill, and Katie have a classic friendship, born of loneliness, uncertainty, and terrible grad school eating habits. They have always had their own apartments, but Janey has always mothered them all, and now she’ll have a real live baby to mother. Things begin swimmingly when Jill’s son Atlas makes his appearance, but as the three young women try to balance school, teaching, living together, and motherhood things become predictably stressed.

The Atlas of Love could easily have been an immensely mediocre book. It would not take a Masters in Literature to predict how this experiment in shared motherhood will end. Yet it is exactly a Masters in Literature that lends The Atlas of Love its charm. Laurie Frankel teaches in an English department, and Janey and all of her friends are graduate students in English. The self-referential literature remarks, Janey’s comparison of their life to the literature she studies, these things are what The Atlas of Love unique and interesting.

Join the conversation on March 31, 2011

A touching story of friendship, parental love, and unconventional families. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher for SheKnows 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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Not Ready for Mom Jeans by Maureen Lipinski – Book Review

Not Ready for Mom Jeans by Maureen Lipinski
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of Macmillan

If you read “A Bump in the Road” (which you don’t need to understand and enjoy “Not Ready for Mom Jeans”), you already know that Clare Finnegan has a new baby after what was an unplanned pregnancy for herself and her husband. Not that they don’t both adore their daughter, but life with Sara is so different than life before Sara. One of the biggest differences is Clare’s newfound questioning of her career. Being an event planner is something that she has always loved, but when Clare’s maternity leave ends, she feels an intense amount of mom guilt leaving her precious little girl at daycare with strangers.

Although I couldn’t always identify with Clare and the old, single, pre-child ways she did not want to give up, like staying out for most of the night to go drinking with her friends, I think that most mothers will identify with Clare’s struggles with work-life balance. For Clare motherhood is a constant reinvention of self, and she has a lot of soul searching to do in order to determine what is best for her and her family.

A couple of minor continuity problems failed to dampen my enthusiasm for this funny and realistic look at the tough choices of modern motherhood. I think most moms – nay, parents – would be able to relate to the decisions Clare finds herself forced to make.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

Maureen Lipinski’s website

Other Books by Maureen Lipinski:
“A Bump in the Road”

This review was done with a personal copy.
* 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.