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Book review: The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

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Becca Benz Good Reads with Becca

I’ve read a lot of books which were entertaining and enjoyable even though the characters or plot were not completely believable, or the dialogue was choppy or the humor forced. But occasionally you are blessed to come upon an author whose writing style and dialogue flow seamlessly and the humor comes naturally, and the characters are real and dealing with situations in a way which is believable, and Abbi Waxman is one of those authors. And I knew as soon as I read the “About the Author” section that I was going to love this book: “Abbi Waxman is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, three cats, and one very patient husband.” I mean, how could you not be excited after reading such a great into!

The Garden of Small Beginnings Abbi WaxmanThe Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman is the story of Lilian Girvan, who is the single mother of two young girls and Frank the Dog, along with being a widow after her husband died in a car accident three years earlier. Surviving a mental breakdown and thoughts of wanting to give up, she’s now trying to get back to living life again with the help of her supportive sister and a memorable cast of characters. Her job as a textbook illustrator leads her to a gardening class as part of her research for a new assignment, and the group of people she meets in the class soon become a big part of her life, and her healing.

Each chapter is preceded by a short blurb about gardening and how to grow specific vegetables, which was both informative and hilarious. Who knew gardening could be so funny! The story takes place in Los Angeles, and having lived there and knowing a lot of the locations gave the book added depth and made it more enjoyable for me. It also introduced me to Pinks Hot Dogs, a landmark hot dog restaurant in Hollywood since 1939, and made me wonder how I managed to have missed this wonderful establishment when I lived there? That is definitely on my list of places to visit when I’m down there next!

In case it’s not obvious, I LOVED this book and Waxman’s style of writing! She writes with a witty style that had me laughing out loud and unable to put the book down. The characters had depth and it was easy to connect with them and the story just drew me in because it dealt with some pretty intense issues in a realistic way. I felt such empathy for Lilian when she was content to maintain living in a safe rut and not venturing out of her comfort zone, despite knowing she should get out and re-engage with life. Lilian’s character deals with the adversity life has thrown at her in a way that is both heartbreaking and inspiring as she fights to allow herself live life and be happy again. And she does it with a lot of attitude and snark!

It’s a beautiful story filled with such emotion and insight, and it also made me miss gardening and digging in the dirt! This was a thoroughly enjoyable book and I highly recommend it. It was one of those books which I couldn’t put down yet I hated for it to end because it was so good. I can’t wait to read more from Abbi Waxman.

 

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