Title: The Garden of Small Beginnings
Author: Abbi Waxman
Published: May 2017
Genre(s): Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Summary: Three years ago, Lilian’s husband died suddenly in a car crash right outside their LA-area home. For three years, Lilian has been struggling to carry on, but her two young daughters have kept her focused on surviving and her younger sister has been her sanctuary and savior. Lilian’s life is in a place she can digest. She has figured out how to continue living for the sake of her sweet, smart, and quirky girls, but her life is limited to just keeping her head above water. When the publisher Lilian illustrates for puts her on a project to create watercolor drawings for a gardening book, they sign her up for a gardening class at the botanical gardens in order to put her in closer touch with the material she will be creating. The gardening class is full of characters and people from very different walks of life, but they somehow band together to grow vegetables and friendships, all while slowly healing Lilian’s sadness.
Why I Recommend: Abbi Waxman’s writing is snarky and spot-on. She manages to put into words the sarcastic commentator occupying the corners of your mind as she follows Lilian. The marriage Lilian shared with her late husband is full of the petty arguments, the things that drive each other crazy, the monotony and comfort, and their love. It is sweet and it is funny as she remembers what she loved and misses most about her late husband. It really plucked at my heartstrings as I saw so many things related to my own marriage and the things we learn about each other after sharing years of our lives together. On top of that, Lilian’s two daughters are sharp, smart, and a hand-full and Lilian has no illusions of the drudgery as well as the triumph that can be raising children (from my observations). Lilian is incredibly likable as you experience this period of life from her point-of-view, see how imperfect she is and the mistakes she’s made on this healing journey. I was rooting so hard for her, but understood that she had a lot to overcome to let herself be happy again. There is a sweet, sweet romance with a man that I cast in my head as Matthias Schoenaerts, that just made me swoon. This book has heart, it might make you cry a bit, it will make you laugh, and it will leave you smiling. Bonus: it might make you consider picking up a new hobby in gardening. Enjoy!