Friday, August 5, 2016

How to Party with an Infant

Title:  How to Party with an Infant
Publication Information:  Simon & Schuster. 2016. 240 pages.
ISBN:  1501100793 / 978-1501100796

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "My twenty-two-month-old toddler was shoved facedown from the top of the slide at Cow Hollow Playground by a there-year-old, non-English-speaking bully."

Favorite Quote:  "So that's what scares me the most ... the choices we make that herd us toward a certain point, making the other points and places fall away. I'm scared of my choices. I'm scared of what I'm capable of doing for my child, I'm afraid I've already taken too many bad turns and she'll look back at the map and say, 'Why didn't you go here? Why did you turn there?' and Why can't we go back?'"

Mele Bart is a mom, a single parent to two-year old daughter Ellie. Ellie is the result of a relationship with a man who already has a fiancée. He goes back to his fiancée, leaving Mele to build a life with Ellie. A need for social interaction brings Mele to the San Francisco Mother's Club, where, after a few unfortunate tries, she finds friends in Annie, Georgia, Barrett, and Henry. They share stories as their children play.

The social demographic of this book is important. Mele is a single parent, financially secure enough through family support to be a stay-at-home parent to Ellie. The people she is surrounded by all seem to have money, some even a lot of money. The book is set in the Bay area, one of the most affluent parts of the United States. This book is not about the very serious struggles of managing job, finances, and parenthood. To some extent, the book is not even about parenthood, because most of the issues and the stories of the book are about adults dealing with adults.

This book is about family stories - trouble with children, trouble with marriage, and trouble with ex'es. In this way, the book hits on some serious undertones about life and the choices and compromises we make along the way.

The book also is about trouble with other parents with whom Mele does not fit in. It is a chance to poke fun at a certain lifestyle and a certain style of parenting from the race to get into the right pre-school to the nannies to the certain "in" toy. This element finds its way into Mele's stories and in the sections in between chapters which include fictitious posts from the fictitious online forum for the San Francisco Mom's Club.

These book is given structure with the introduction of a Mom's Club Cookbook contest. Mele decides to enter by creating a cookbook of foods based on stories. Although the cookbook doesn't really emerge in the story, it becomes the anchor for the story is told through Mele's very honest, way-too-much-information answers to the contest application questions.

Without a spoiler, I will say that I do not care for the ending of the book. It takes the focus away from Mele's story as a parent and turns this story into something different. I would rather have ended with more posts from the Mom's Club forum or with something more in keeping with the main theme of the book.

This book has be me alternately laughing out loud and saying, "Eewww, I did not need to know that." The laugh out loud portions are mostly about the plights of parenting a toddler and about Mele's interactions with certain types of parents. As a parent myself, I find both relatable. The "eewww" factor comes from some of the descriptions of things that should - well - remain private, shall we say; that's just not my brand of humor. For the most part, the laughter wins out, making this a quick, funny read.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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