By Abbi Waxman
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Net Galley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Lili is many things, just like most women. She is a mother, sister, friend and an illustrator. But the identifying feature that overshadows everything is the quiet grief she carries with her due to the unexpected loss of her husband. Three years after the accident she is still grieving and little bit mad that he left her, even though she is a logical person and knows it isn’t his fault. She feels alone even when surrounded by people.
Her young daughters, Annabel and Clare, keep her going. She has to get up to get them ready for school and drag herself to work to pay the bills. Unfortunately, even though she loves being an illustrator, her job may be changing drastically or gone altogether very soon. Like a lot of places in corporate America today, she may be the victim of downsizing and reorganization of the company no matter how talented she is.
Amid all the turmoil, she is called to her boss’ office who makes her an offer she can’t (or really dare not) refuse. She is given the task of illustrating a botanical book. Additionally, she has to attend a gardening class run by the head of the company that commissioned the book.
For moral support she makes her sister Rachel as well as both of her children to the class. The instructor is handsome, but not her type. No one is her type. The rest of the class members are quirky and lovable. The group would never have chosen to be together, but their friendships grew along with the gardens they were planting and tending.
I loved the way Abbi Waxman set up the chapters in this book. Each one starts with a gardening tip that very easily parallels Lili’s life. You must tend your garden as well as your relationships. If you ignore either one, they may wither and die. And sometimes, no matter how well you tend either of them, something may happen to them, but eventually you need to move on.
It was interesting to see how Lili grew with each class, it wasn’t giant leaps of change in her personality, but subtle, gradual moments that allowed me to believe she was going to be okay after spending three years on autopilot drowning in her grief and guilt.
The Garden of Small Beginnings is Abbi Waxman’s debut novel. It is my hope that she is working right now on another fabulous work of women’s fiction right now. She has a voice that needs to be read.
Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman