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The Garden of Small Beginnings In the spirit of A Man Called Ove and Good Grief a poignant, funny, and utterly believable novel about life and lossGive grief a chanceLilian 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 underwhelmedAt 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 pityAfter 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 notREADERS GUIDE INCLUDED It isn t often any that I connect so well with the characters of a story that they truly not only seem like friends and family, but that I m so sad when it is over because it means that I will never see them again It is also rare that I stay up late into the night reading because I love the story and characters so much and yet, Abbi Waxman managed to do both of those things for me with her debut novel The Garden of Small Beginnings I was asked to read this and turned it down because it sou It isn t often any that I connect so well with the characters of a story that they truly not only seem like friends and family, but that I m so sad when it is over because it means that I will never see them again It is also rare that I stay up late into the night reading because I love the story and characters so much and yet, Abbi Waxman managed to do both of those things for me with her debut novel The Garden of Small Beginnings I was asked to read this and turned it down because it sounded sad and a bit depressing but after seeing so many great reviews for it I reconsidered and I m so glad that I did There are sadder moments in this story, it is about grief after all, but there are so many happy and funny moments that they outshine anything else and truly made this whole story so worth it to take a chance on I connected with this story, right from the beginning on a level that I honestly, wasn t expecting I teared up, I laughed, I cried, I smiled but most of all through it all, I was rooting for every single character I met expect maybe Dirto.This wasn t a story about one women but instead a story about many people Diverse people that come together in a tiny space of time and truly become so muchto each other In fact, they become so muchthan friends but instead, a family A very diverse, crazy family and it couldn t have beenbeautiful Waxman created something beautiful in this story, so muchthan how to move on or about grief It s about being strong when you have to but realizing you don t always have to be strong About coping and growing and becoming something so muchthan you were before Truly one of the best stories I ve read in a really long time Lilian is a single mother of two and an illustrator at Poplar Press After Dan, her husband, died in a car accident Lilian had a breakdown and eventually had to be hospitalized Through out her sister Rachel stepped in and helped until Lilian was able to start taking care of herself and her two girls again Three years later and Lilian is coping much better and trying to learn to go on without Dan when her company signs her up for gardening lessons The lessons come in conjunction to an assignme Lilian is a single mother of two and an illustrator at Poplar Press After Dan, her husband, died in a car accident Lilian had a breakdown and eventually had to be hospitalized Through out her sister Rachel stepped in and helped until Lilian was able to start taking care of herself and her two girls again Three years later and Lilian is coping much better and trying to learn to go on without Dan when her company signs her up for gardening lessons The lessons come in conjunction to an assignment for hand illustrating vegetables for a series of vegetable guides They re being taught by Edward Bloem who is the world expert in humus, not the eating kind disappointingly The story unfolds over the six weeks of class as Lilian, along with her sister and daughters who are there with her, learns to grow her garden and about the ups and downs of life as she finally learns to open herself up again The book is really funny and well written and heartening I can see why so many people loved it but I think the problem was just that it wasn t really my type of book There actually isn t anything in the book itself that made me rate it three stars but it sabout my personal taste because I just don t usually like uplifting books, wow that sounds depressing, but I think this is one of the better one s I ve read and if I knew anyone who liked these sorts of books I d totally recommend this one to them It may just be about the different places that I am versus the narrator so there was a little bit of distance and detachment while I read I also kept kind of getting confused wondering if I d picked up someone s memoir and I kept thinking wow this personal can illustrate and write well damn I can t do anything I thought this book was ghastly awful Honestly I thought I was going to die if I kept reading..For the little longest time I tried to be good kind.a compassionate reader After awhile I was either rolling my eyes or laughing uncontrollably, thinking how does anyone read this book with a straight face THIS BOOK IS NOT A GOOD FIT FOR ME IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM I turned into the wicked witch from the east.or is it the north WICKED FOR SURE My inner mean voice took on I thought this book was ghastly awful Honestly I thought I was going to die if I kept reading..For the little longest time I tried to be good kind.a compassionate reader After awhile I was either rolling my eyes or laughing uncontrollably, thinking how does anyone read this book with a straight face THIS BOOK IS NOT A GOOD FIT FOR ME IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM I turned into the wicked witch from the east.or is it the north WICKED FOR SURE My inner mean voice took on a life of its own I couldn t stop it I m a nasty mean rotten human being I LAUGHED At this book not with it I m not proud of myself NOT AT ALL just telling you the truth The longer I invested time with this nonsense.theunsettling it was that I have such an mean streak inside me READERS SEEM TO LOVE IT ME I FELT NOTHING Lilian s she prefers to go by Lily , husband died Lily is young herself with two small daughters HELLO welcome to my life My mom was 34 when my dad died I was 4 My sister was 9 Sooooooo, you d think I d have EXTRA COMPASSION..for this story., right God no I wanted to gag Abbi Waxman I wanted to read your book because I was sure your were Jewish I m Jewish I honestly wanted to like your book Please forgive me I m guessing you re a wonderful human being bright fun and real but I couldn t feel real in your book I didn t find things funny, and I didn t find things sad I thought the children were annoying, whiny,.caricature I felt the mother had a one dimensional quality of sarcasm about her just got oldand older As far as the gardening lessons I do gardening.yet I found most of the gardening scenes boring even belittling at times Most the dialogue turned me off The way Lily talked to her kids felt like nails on a chalk board NOT authentic I felt Lily talked to them about them around them but never authentically with her children Everything felt fake to me From cat boobies and male cat s nipples so shopping at target to the dog scratching at the back door.to sister Rachel being the type of match maker sister she was.and telling Lily what to wear to the supporting characters in the gardening classstereotypes cartoonish characters This book needed a lotRICH QUALITY fertilizer and less chatter about peas, ice cream, Lily s righteous observations about her mother, her sister, her employer, and her children Lily s words of wisdom about who is and isn t narcissistic just made her look pathetic THE ONGOING ONGOING ONGOING SARCASM..tone in this novel was unbearable Thank You Netgalley, Berkeley Publishing I m so sorry I usually love books that you endorse so this is unusual , and Abbi Waxman hope you can forgive meI wish you much joy and success MORE people LOVE your book than don t I m the oddball 1.5 rating The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman is a 2017 Berkley publication I admit I started reading this book with a certain mindset I was thinking contemporary fiction, maybe some romance, maybe not, with mature adult characters, and I was right about that much, but whatever else I might have been thinking, was totally blown out of the water after reading the first chapter The story deals with some heavy topics, but it was absolutely hysterical I laughed all the way through it, but it w The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman is a 2017 Berkley publication I admit I started reading this book with a certain mindset I was thinking contemporary fiction, maybe some romance, maybe not, with mature adult characters, and I was right about that much, but whatever else I might have been thinking, was totally blown out of the water after reading the first chapter The story deals with some heavy topics, but it was absolutely hysterical I laughed all the way through it, but it was also a moving and bittersweet journey Lilian Girvan is going through the motions of living She has a good job as a textbook illustrator, but it s not all that challenging or fulfilling She s the mother to two little girls, sister of Rachel, a free spirited woman who would do anything for her, and a widow When Lilian s husband, Dan, is killed in a car accident, Lilian nearly died from a broken heart She spent a little in patient time in a mental hospital, and might have entertained a few suicidal thoughts, but now, she s able to simply exist again, not actually living life to its full potential, but getting through one day to the next, nursing her grief, unable or unwilling to let go of it But, the thing is, Dan has been gone for three years, and those who love Lilian would really like to see her start moving forward with her life instead of walking in place As fate would have it, Lilian s boss signs her up for a gardening class to appease a new client, and out of this random and seemingly benign event, Lilian finds her entire world opening up to new possibilities, as she forges an unexpected relationship with other members of the class, not only learning to cultivate vegetables, but also new friendships, stronger familial ties, and maybe even the strength and desire to begin dating again.This novel explores various themes, such as the relationship between sisters, first impressions, unexpected experiences that can steer us in a new direction, and the simple act of enjoying a new hobby, such as gardening, which may initially seem challenging, but turns out to be quite therapeutic and fun Humor is a tool some people hide behind when under duress, or as a coping mechanism Both Lilian and Rachel were able to lean on this ability to get them through some tough times, but it also helped them communicate with each other without one taking offense and kept the tone light, despite the palpable pain Lilian was suffering It was a fascinating dance between the sisters who stayed close despite their differences Their relationship appears to parallel the relationship between Lilian s own daughters in a way, with one being very sensitive and the other showing an unflappable approach to life The students taking the gardening class, and the teacher, all have a role, and each one shares their unique background, which adds depth and character to the story, fleshing it out, and bringing much needed variety and color to Lilian s life For those looking for romance, this book does have a few promises and hints of budding relationships, but this really isn t a romance novel, in my opinion It isabout Lilian s long journey out of the dark grip of grief, her healing and eventual personal growth Lilian learns to face her fears so that she can be a better parent, sister, and friend She must first learn to care for herself, so that she can fully take charge of her life again The author did an amazing job of capturing Lilian s melancholy and vulnerabilities, while also accentuating her humor and wit She was a delightful character, and I instantly warmed up to her, and knew I was going to enjoy getting to know her When Lilian is finally able to think of others, to draw her attention away from her inner struggles, she is able to reenter life and truly become productive again Lilian steps out of her perpetual gloom, into the light, kicking and screaming, fighting it every step of the way, but once she finally steps into the sun, the welcoming brightness sent rays of hope to warm her fragile heart and weary soul.The gardening tips at the beginning of each chapter was a nice touch, and as a gardener, I found many of the suggestions useful, as well as charmingly funny Overall, this is just the type of all around inspirational feel good story I need sometimes There is no absolute and they all lived happily ever after conclusion, exactly, which, under normal circumstances would really tick me off, but in this case, I didn t mind so much I don t think it s too hard to determine how things will probably turn out for Lilian and her sister, as well as for the supporting cast, and since the book ends on such an optimistic note, I m going to go with my own version of events, which is and they all lived happily ever after Lilian s reluctant pilgrimage sucked me into another life, took my mind off my own troubles, while I cheered her from the sidelines, watching while she blossomed back to life, while touching my own life 4 stars

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