Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Planting Dandelions

Summary: In the family of Jen Lancaster and Elizabeth Gilbert, Kyran Pittman is the laid-back middle sister: warm and witty and confiding, with an addictively smart and genuine voice-but married with three kids and living in the heartland. Relatable and real, she writes about family in a way that highlights all its humor, while at the same time honoring its depth.

A regular contributor to
Good Housekeeping, Pittman is well loved because she is funny and honest and self-deprecating, because her own household is in chaos ("semi-domesticated"), and because she inspires readers in their own domestic lives. In these eighteen linked, chronological essays, Pittman covers the first twelve years of becoming a family, writing candidly and hilariously about things like learning to maintain a marriage over time; dealing with the challenges of sex after childbirth; saying good-bye to her younger self and embracing the still attractive, forty-year-old version; and trying to "recession- proof" her family (i.e., downsize to avoid foreclosure).

From a fresh new talent, celebrating the joys and trials of a new generation of parents,
Planting Dandelions is an entertaining tribute to choosing the white-picket fence over the other options available, even if you don't manage to live up to its ideals every day. -- Riverhead

I'm not entirely sure that I would have picked up PLANTING DANDELIONS: FIELD NOTES FROM A SEMI-DOMESTICATED LIFE by Kyran Pittman without some gentle coaxing from a friend. This particular friend has never led me wrong before, and I've found over the past few years that we have very similar reactions to literary novels. The question was: would we agree about a collection of real-life essays about a mom?

The answer is yes! (I think I might have found my reading soul mate!) I enjoyed PLANTING DANDELIONS very much, and I really think a lot of women are going to relate to this funny, yet heart-warming, book. I say women (in italics) because this book is primarily about a woman who left her free-style type life behind to move to get married, move to Arkansas, and become a mother to three boys -- so it makes sense that it's going to appeal to the mom crowd. However, I don't want to say that this is just a book for mothers because that friend I mentioned earlier is single and childless; and she found this book to be very entertaining as well.

PLANTING DANDELIONS is a collection of essays about Kyran Pittman's life as a wife and mother. When I first started reading this book, I didn't think Ms. Pittman and I had very much in common -- she was much more fun and adventurous than I -- but it only took a few chapters to realize that much of what Ms. Pittman has felt as a mom and woman resides inside all of us. And I think that's one of the reasons that I liked PLANTING DANDELIONS so much. I could relate to her feelings about being a wife and mother. I found myself nodding my head and laughing at many of her stories (I know moms of boys will chuckle at quite a few as will women over 40!), but I also found my heart warming as she talked about how special her family is to her.

There is no doubt that some of the stories in PLANTING DANDELIONS were downright hilarious. I especially enjoyed the ones about the changes she experienced while being pregnant and also the changes to her body after childbirth! The chapters about her kids were quite entertaining too especially as they pertain to the male sense of humor (i.e. potty humor.) But I also found myself touched by quite a few of the stories. There were a few that really made me pause and reflect like the one about her decision to become an American citizen and the one about the difficulties she faced in her marriage.

As is the case anytime I read a collection of essays like PLANTING DANDELIONS, I enjoyed more chapters than others; however, I found that I enjoyed all of them in some way. Maybe it was the humor or how the story touched my heart, but all of Ms. Pittman's essays were written with such an authentic voice. I truly appreciated Ms. Pittman's honestly (and sometimes it was brutal honesty), and I'm not sure I could ever talk about (nevertheless write about) some of the things she did. But I will say that these stories did make for some fun reading.

I was a little surprised to discover that there is a reading guide for PLANTING DANDELIONS. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this book would be very fun to discuss -- especially with a group of moms! There are ten questions in this guide and some of the topics you might wan to explore include marriage, family, pregnancy, child rearing, commitment, acceptance, and loyalty.

If you are looking for a quick, yet entertaining read about being a wife and mother, then I do suggest PLANTING DANDELIONS. It would make a great Mother's Day gift for the women in your life -- or even yourself!

Thanks to the publisher for sending a review copy of this book.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love these kind of essays for listening to in the car. Or a bookclub too - you could see where it would generate a lot of discussion!

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a book I'd love since I'm the mom of a boy and over 40.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

I'm married with no kids yet, but I think I would love this book! I've been drawn more and more lately to "mom" books and "mom" articles. Hmm... is my subconscious trying to tell me something? Thanks for the review!

Hey, I want to read that! said...
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Carol said...

This is not the type of book I usually read, but the title just keeps calling to me.

Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

Kyran is a neighbor and glad you enjoyed her book!