Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review: Julia's Child

By Melissa Amster

It's not often that I find myself able to relate to a character because of some common bonds. However, I think Sarah Pinneo must have been spying on my life when she wrote "Julia's Child." Well, that's probably an exaggeration, but a few things really hit close to home.

Julia Bailey is a mompreneur (a mom entrepreneur) who runs an organic baby and toddler food company aptly named Julia's Child. On the business front, there is a lot of food to cook, huge decisions to make, worrying about her business partner's needs, and lots of "schlepping." On the home front, there are her two young sons, her supportive husband, her attractive babysitter and some annoying neighbors. When Julia's Child has the opportunity to make it big, Julia has to decide what is most important to her and balance that with the needs of everyone else in her life.

As I said before, Julia is a character with whom I was able to relate instantly! While I don't know much about organic foods and how they're made, I keep Kosher and have to worry about the foods I shop for from that end of the spectrum. Her arguments with her mother about organic food reminded me of arguments with my mother over Kosher food. Julia and I are both working mothers (we both have two sons, but I also have a daughter) who have to balance out our professional and personal lives. I feel bad whenever I can't make it to something at either of my sons' schools even though I try my hardest. Julia felt bad about not being able to spend more time with her sons, especially when they made it clear how much they needed her. Her business reminded me of how much time I put into running a blog. I know her business is there to turn a profit, but they both require a large time investment to run smoothly.

"Julia's Child" was an enjoyable read from start to finish. As you may know, I love stories about entrepreneurial women and this definitely fit the bill. All the characters were very diverse and easy to distinguish from one another. Her kids, especially Wylie, sounded adorable. They added a lot of comic relief to the story. I found myself rooting for her when things went well and getting frustrated for her when they didn't. She was a very sympathetic character, even if we had nothing in common. The location descriptions were great, as I could easily visualize wherever Julia went throughout the story. Although I don't have much interest in organic foods, Ms. Pinneo made it all sound so interesting. I especially love that she included a lot of recipes. I hope to make some, even though I'll probably have to adapt some for Kosher reasons.

I did have a few concerns though. There seemed to be some parts of the story that were left open-ended. I wanted the situations to be resolved more than they actually were. For instance, there were some people who were introduced toward the middle of the story. Then they disappeared and nothing was ever answered about why they were there in the first place. Not that I wanted more conflict for Julia, but it would have been interesting to incorporate them into some sort of conflict that happened later in the story. It also seemed to end almost abruptly, even though there was an epilogue. I also felt like there never was a clear age set for Julia. It was alluded to at the end that she may have been in her mid-30's, but earlier in the story, it sounded like she grew up throughout most of the 1970's. It was hard to picture her without a specific age attached. Finally, the amount of stress Julia was put through seemed insanely overwhelming at times. Almost like "too bad to be true." However, Julia seemed so stoic through most of the crises. Maybe that was just her personality, but if I had been in her shoes, I would have been throwing things all over the place and yelling my head off. It was like Ms. Pinneo kept adding to a tower of stress and I was just waiting for Julia to topple over along with the tower.

Overall, I really liked "Julia's Child." It was a lighthearted and interesting story and I would definitely recommend it. I think it's eye-opening to what working mothers go through, while also remaining fun and endearing.

Thanks to Penguin and KMSPR for sending the book in exchange for an honest review. Sarah Pinneo visited CLC earlier this week and our giveaway is going on until February 12th. (US only.)

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1 comment:

Jonita said...

I agree! This was an enjoyable book and you can't help but like Julia as she is going through everything, even if you have nothing in common with her. I, too, found that bits of the ending were too abrupt. Great review, Melissa!