My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received Abbi Waxman’s debut novel, The Garden of Small Beginnings, through Goodreads.com. I never would have guessed that a novel about a young widow raising two young daughters could be funny. No. Make that hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud from page one. Sarcasm is my favorite form of wit so I thoroughly enjoyed the repartee between Lili and her sister. Even the most poignant and emotional scenes were infused with this razor sharp wit. Some of my favorite moments, though, were the times when the children in the novel said and did things that children would totally say and do.
The novel has its flaws though. All of the characters – with the possible exception of Lili and her mother – are too perfect. I don’t mean that they don’t have their flaws and complexities, but that they are all so kind and generous and everyone gets along wonderfully and immediately. In my experience life is not like that (but my experience is rather limited so maybe I’m wrong). Also, while there is plenty of conflict (mostly from within Lili herself), everything seems to come so easily (see how quickly and well all the characters get along). And the end left me with too many questions about the characters’ futures. I guess I’ll just have to believe in their happily ever after.
Whatever shortcomings the novel has, it more than makes up for with its wicked sense of humor and exceedingly likable characters ( I am absolutely, completely in love with Edward!). The Garden of Small Beginnings is an honest portrayal of grief, motherhood, sisterhood, and the complexities of human nature. But mostly it is just plain hilarious.