I know! Never judge a book by its cover, but would you look at that cover?! It's beautiful and I love it. And do you want to know what else I love? The book this cover covers. The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman is the story of Lili, a mother of two adorable little girls; a sister; a textbook illustrator; and a woman nearly four years into widowhood. It's been a very difficult few years for Lili and while her sister and even her in-laws have encouraged her to move on, she just doesn't feel ready.
When he died in a car accident, fifty feet from our front door, I seriously considered dying, too. Not because my heart was broken, though that was true, but because my mind was completely boggled by the logistical challenges of living without him.
When Lili's boss requires her to take a gardening class to prepare her for her new illustrating assignment, Lili takes along her sister Rachel, as well as her two daughters. The eclectic group they meet in class quickly becomes a tight-knit bunch of friends. One of my favorite things about this book is that Lili's sister Rachel, while divorced and somewhat carefree, doesn't conform to the typical crazy- unreliable-sister-of-the-stable-main-character pigeon hole. Rachel is extremely supportive and helpful, proving it is possible for a character to be single and also an asset to a family unit. I also really liked the development of each of the members of the gardening class. Waxman seems to enjoy throwing off stereotypes and I loved that about this book.
This was a book about learning to grow vegetables, but also about learning to grow. It was so sad in some parts:
...every morning I woke up alone was a vicious punch in the throat.
It was also funny and touching. Sure, this book likely would qualify as chick-lit, but it is on the better end of that genre. If you're looking for a fun spring or summer read, this would fit that bill.
P.S.: I knew I was going to like Abbi Waxman as soon as I read this in her acknowledgements section:
If there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women, then I hope there's a corollary spot in heaven for women who do. Or free parking. Something.