The so-called "wisdom" of French parenting in this book is a lot like the good 'ole common sense American parenting that you can find alive and well in the middle of this country, away from New York City and California. Perhaps Ms. Druckerman needs to travel in her own country a bit more - and step outside of her circles that only seem to include rich, privileged, obsessive, neurotic, ineffective helicopter parents. She uses the phrase, "middle-class families" a lot, but most Americans I know can't afford the nannies, camps, vacations, extra classes and cross-Atlantic flights that Ms. Druckerman mentions. For that matter, most of us can't afford to live in Paris. I know plenty of truly middle class parents whose kids eat their vegetables, sleep through the night, play independently at the playground, and use their manners. In fact, I don't recognize the profiles of most of the American parents she talks about. Parents who allow their children to be the boss and rule their lives are just bad parents, and there are bad parents in every country. From the evidence in this book, there just happens to be a high concentration of them in NYC.
My review might be tainted with the disappointment I feel after ALL my friends recommended this book, and hundreds of others have given it rave reviews, but I just don't think there's much of a story here. So, she's had a few bad things happen to her, and she's learned to see beauty in the little things. That's great, but it's not enough for a memoir, or whatever it's supposed to be. I enjoyed her research into the concept of "eucharisteo," and I am sorry for her loss and grief, but all that could have been said in one chapter. I suspect that Zondervan forced her to add "filler," because published books have to conform to a prescribed number of pages, and it becomes quite repetitious. Counting your blessings to find the joy in your life is an old concept, and a good one, but I was looking forward to the end of the book by chapter 3.
There are plenty of little things that irk me about her "poetic style" that everyone is gushing over. First of all, nearly the entire book is sentence fragments--even fragments of fragments, which often makes her writing difficult to follow. This works in a condensed genre like poetry, but 227 pages of sentence fragments? Ugh. She omits articles like "a" and "the" for no apparent reason other than apparently, it's her...style? Voskamp doesn't appear to understand the concept of an adverb (the snow falls soft....sun shines bright), and most irritatingly, she insists on referring to her husband as "Farmer." Why doesn't she use his name? What if he were a garbage man or a funeral home director? Would she still pull this trick? It doesn't appear to be for privacy, because sometimes she calls her kids by their names--Levi--and sometimes she refers to them as "Son." It's weird.
Usually, I like it when authors read their own works, but not this time. Sometimes Voskamp reads too fast, sometimes too slowly.She chuckles inexplicably in places, when there is not one funny line in the entire book. She has some some strange pronunciations of words, like "futon," "triad," "vestige," "medieval," and "bosom," and most annoying of all (to this American) is the way she draws out, "Gohhwwdd" (God).
I feel badly criticizing a fellow Christian, and a fellow mom who has done something I would never be able to do--get a book published--but I feel like there needs to be a few more reviews that balance out the excessive praise for this book.
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