The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

The Garden of Small Beginnings

Abbi Waxman

Abbi Waxman weaves a story filled with laugh-out-loud humor about a widowed mom, her two adorable little girls, a loyal sister, gardening tips, and an irresistible garden instructor.

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In the spirit of A Man Called Ove and Good Grief—a poignant, funny, and utterly believable novel about life and loss.
 
Give grief a chance . . .
 
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…

READERS GUIDE INCLUDED


Advance Galley Reviews

I really loved the main protagonist in this book. She made me laugh and shed a few tears on occasion. It's one of those books that I have to keep reading to see what happens, but I also want to stop and savor the book instead of rushing through it. The book includes gardening tips, the beginning of love relationships as well as grief in the end of relationships through death and adultery. I would definitely be interested in reading more from this author.

Loved this book. The relationship between the sisters was so true to life. Witty, laugh out loud funny. I didn't want this book to end. Hope Abbi Waxman writes more very soon!!

Abbi Waxman has a fan in me. I zoomed through this book in two days. I couldn't put it down. I was super bummed when I realized this was her debut and that there were no other Abbi Waxman books to devour! It was bitingly funny, darkly hilarious. When the synopsis included that drawing whale genetalia was a highlight for our narrator, I should have known what I was in for, but this book was so much more than I could have hoped for. It is truly a God-given talent when an author can make widowhood this hilarious. The dialogue is snappy and ever-so-witty. The relationship between Lili and Rachel is wonderful. Lili's recounting of her husband's horrible death and subsequent breakdown are heartbreaking. But Waxman's tone and her careful balance between past and present events saved the book from being depressing. I honestly probably could have done without the little "how to grow" blurbs before each chapter, but even some of those got a chuckle out of me. And I'll admit, too, I was a little concerned at first as to how this whole gardening class was going to go; I was afraid it would be endlessly boring. But that motley gardening crew of misfits quickly became one of my favorite parts of the novel. And Edward. Oh, Edward. What a sweetie pie. I was so glad when Lili kissed him in the end. Normally, I would have been frustrated with her for not jumping him the way she wanted to (like Rachel)--like, c'mon girl, it's been three years, let yourself live already--yet it's a testament to Waxman's delivery of Lili's inner turmoil that makes it endearing and believable, and all the more triumphant when Lili jumps that hurtle and makes a move. This is a beautiful, darkly hilarious, endearingly lighthearted, poignant, very real book, and I will be recommending it to EVERYBODY. I will also be anxiously awaiting Waxman's next book. Hurry up and write it already!

Enjoyable book. I cried more than I laughed (I can cry at the drop of a hat). It's a bit of a fluff book in everything falls into place quite easily. New jobs/ new friends/ new love. Every one finds their perfect match. Every one is supportive. But the message is clear for a person who has lost a loved one without the usual "it's time to move on" lecture. With everything that is going on in the main character's life, she does not act like a drama queen. She gets through it. She isn't perfect. She's doing the best she can and with a little help, she keeps her sanity. There's a little bit of everything in this book including a list of questions for those who read it for bookclub.

This book, this book! It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me want to get my hands dirty, in a pot garden first, I think! Thats a plant in a pot, not the kind you smoke! Uhhummm! It has a bit of humor, okay, a lot of satiracal and otherwise guffaw worthy laughs! I caught them from reading this book. Okay, so Lilian's hubby has died, leaving her to raise their children, as well as their dog no easy task either, singlehandedly. We enter the picture several years into this unforeseen twist in her family's lives. Shes got a sister who cooks for her & the children occaisionly and occaisionly cooks up schemes to get Lillian aka Lili, to cook for her. Getting her sister out of the house and into dates, with real men even if they are business clients is always on the menu as well! What else are sisters for? Eventually Lili's boss gives her an assignment which gets her enrolled in a svegetable growing class & involved with a very nice, hubba hubba, gardening instructor whose going to tell her what to do with her dirty hands and her pot! Waggling of my eyebrows is occurring! Thats it! I'm quitting because a reviewer can only be expected to take so many laughs...and to be fair, this book has a lot more than laughs going on! Loss, love and life...that and a lot of growth for every living thing involved...me and you included. Read this book..plant a garden or a single painted pot plot, with the instructions included at the end of each chapter. But you better be ready to laugh until you cry, or vice versa! 5 stars! Reviewed by Linda Karau based on a free ARC, by choice! Rocking & reviewing Grandma, Linda K, Minnesota USA LkaypjLinda Karau

Witty, engaging, heartfelt, and beautifully written. I loved this book! Waxman had me laughing out loud, and I think I would be best friends with this MC. But the author was also able to balance the humor with authentic emotion and insightful treatment of serious themes.

I loved this book! What started off as a tale about a widowed mother and the way her life and the life of her children has changed since she her husband died unexpectedly, became a story about family, healing, forgiveness, friendship, and loyalty. With enough humor to keep this story light for it's emotional and dramatic content, Abbi Waxman worked wonders. It was emotionally charged, romantic, funny, and heart-felt. What I loved most was the relationship between Lili and her two daughters, although the recurring theme that first impressions are not always accurate, was a close second. There was a lot of character development and very interesting relationship dynamics. Would recommend this!

I absolutely adored this book! I never expected to laugh out a loud while reading a book about a young widow with 2 young daughters who take a gardening class. Lili, Rachel, Annabel and Clare are hilarious and very real characters. I love a book that can make me laugh and cry and this one did both. The gardening tips that preceded each chapter were great - they were funny and I actually learned about some things about gardening. The supporting characters were all interesting and well developed as well - you believed all these people liked and needed each other. I highly recommend this book - it isn't typical 'chick lit'- it would make a great book club selection.

Lively and charming, yet tackles weighty issues with grace. Waxman sketches her main character Lili as both vulnerable and strong, making her journey very rewarding to follow. Lili has an odd way of directly addressing the reader at times, which was a little bit jarring at first, but this writing quirk easily made her feel real and personable. The stable of strong secondary and tertiary characters each add a great amount of flavor and fun to the tale, and it was a joy to spend time with all of them. As a bonus, I was able to learn useful information about gardening both through the events of the story and the tips that preceded every chapter.

Abby Walkman spins a tale that is engaging, filled with witty humor and heartfelt grief. Fill your glass with some wine, and settle into a comfy seat to enjoy this engrossing story of a young widowed mother struggles to fine her way back. The characters are charming, vulnerable, and yet strong. Lili finds her self surrounded by a supportive group of strangers that meet through a community gardening class. Strangers that become friends and family to her. Her adorable children breakthrough the barrier to help her face her loss and to open herself to others. She also finds an attraction to the teacher of her gardening class that is both appealing and scary. Will she be able to open her heart on love again? It'll b hard to put this book down. When you are finished, it will be like parting with friends and wanting so to see them again soon.

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… This is a story about grief, survivor’s guilt, love and having the courage to move on from tragedy. Lili Girvan has been in a holding pattern since the death of her husband 4 years before, enveloped in her sadness and grief while feeling guilty that she was the one that lived. With amazing support from her younger sister, Rachel, she is able to live each day and care for her two young daughters – Annabel and Clare (who are so wonderfully portrayed by Waxman). Lili’s mother in law, April, states it best about their loss, “He didn’t leave us on purpose, honey, but he did leave, and that’s all there is to it.” As an illustrator for a textbook publishing company, she is asked to illustrate a vegetable encyclopedia for the Bloem family and has been volunteered to take a Saturday morning gardening class taught by one of the Bloem family members. Lili finds herself attracted to her teacher, Edward, but feels she is still not ready to date despite her attraction to him. Throughout the six week course, Lili develops friendships with her fellow gardening classmates and begins the process of moving on from the loss of her husband and realize it is okay to live her life, even though he has died. Waxman takes an honest look at grief and how it feels to move on. I laughed and cried openly while I read. Although I have never suffered the loss Lili had suffered, through Waxman’s portrayal of Lili, I was living it right along with her. I fell in love with the characters, the story and its telling. Once I began reading this book, I could not put it down. So far I have raved about it to everyone –my family, patrons and staff. I look forward to reading Waxman’s next novel.

A sweet book about love and loss and love rediscovered.

This is a cute book about a young widow with two small girls who is forced to take a gardening class for work and learns about gardening and about falling in love again. While I love Waxman's witty writing and there are several funny scenes, the characters felt a little underdeveloped. I also don't feel that the story went deep enough. I felt like there should have been more detail, particularly about Lili's exchanges with Edward. 3/5 stars.

Even though I am in my mid thirties, and have lived as a single mother in the past, it is sometimes difficult for me to connect with similar characters in novels. They tend to either be experiencing a crisis, and handling it by being too wild, or maudlin, or care for their children too much or not enough. Lillian, the protagonist of Abbi Waxman's novel, has no such issues. She is widowed, has her issues with the situation, but handles it in a way that shows her strength and wit right off the bat. It's refreshing and wonderful to see. There's a Monty Python reference that made me giggle in the middle of a slightly uncomfortable conversation she was having with one of her young daughters. Rachael, her sister, manages to be both supportive and sassy in the best ways. If you like your fiction lively and fun, with a hint of feelings and light drama, then this really is the novel for you. I'll most likely be reading it again, which puts it on a very short list of modern fiction.

 


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