By: Abbi Waxman
Published Year: 2017
Publisher: Berkley Books
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shape or form influenced my opinion.
Summary (Provided by Goodreads): Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.
At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.
After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…
The brightly colored cover immediately caught my eye and instantly made me want to read it. The summary had me a bit wary at first, but still sounded interesting.
What I thought
This book was so cute! For a book that could’ve been really depressing, this was done in a light and humorous way that made it very enjoyable.
Lili is an illustrator for a textbook publishing company. When her company asks her to complete the illustrations for a vegetable guide, they also sign her up to attend a weekly gardening class. In addition to this project, Lili is still coping with the fact that her husband died in a horrific car accident that she witnessed four years ago, while also raising two little girls.
This book is Waxman’s debut novel and I think it is very strong! The style of writing was very fresh when compared to a lot of other contemporary/women’s fiction. I loved Lil’s voice and her sense of humor. In my opinion, Waxman balanced the seriousness of grief with the lightness of everyday life.
I think this book portrays family relationships very well. I loved the dynamics between Lili and her sister Rachel. I also enjoyed Lili’s relationship with her daughters, as well as her running commentary on how difficult parenting is. It was obvious that she loved her children with all her heart, but she could still be sick of them at times. The one dynamic that seemed a little odd to me was Lili’s mom. She was not a good mother and therefore Lili and Rachel has some issues that stemmed from that. I was fine with just that, but then their mom came to dinner and the reader got to see her poor parenting in action and it just seemed a little unnecessary to me.
I have never read a book that focused on gardening and I absolutely loved that aspect of the book. I looked forward to the weekly gardening class as well as the band of characters that were taking it with Lili. It made me want to go out and start my own garden. However, I don’t have a yard, so that will have to wait.