Friday, September 27, 2013

Family Size by Maria Hoagland

Jessica loves being the mom of an ever-expanding family, but when an ultrasound throws her a curve, can she adapt with grace?

Dragged away from home, Maya feels deserted by her workaholic husband in a land of confusing accents and church cliques. What will it take to acclimate and save her marriage—or does she even want to?

Sloane is an algebra teacher and runner who would give up both to be a mom, but no matter what she does, pregnancy remains elusive. Can she adjust her thinking and find purpose in her life?

As their lives intertwine, can friendship and faith help these women hurdle expectations of an ideal family size?

My guess is that every woman everywhere can relate to this book in one way or another.  I know I did.  If the struggle wasn't mine at one point or another, it was the struggle of someone close to me.  There was an automatic connection all the way through the book.

These women struggle with self esteem, fitting in, motherhood, friendships, and illness.  Every page is filled with struggle of some kind.  While I know that life deals hard things every day, this book felt like living the lives of three more people dealing with hard things.  This book was in no way for me an escape.  It felt heavy.  There were a lot of down and depressing things that didn't get a lot of lifting until right at the very, very end.   I guess I didn't feel a lot of relief or hope throughout although I know each woman had it or they wouldn't have kept going.  There were lots of negative things (feelings, words) and while I know these particular struggles are full of negative, I don't like dwelling there.   

I believe that while there are people out there who can be insensitive and even rude, there are also lots of people out there who are kind, generous and compassionate.  Most of the time comments that can be considered rude in this book are made by people who do not understand the circumstances.  When we as people understand each other better, we are naturally inclined to be more considerate and kind.

I guess one of the "moral of the story" standouts for me can be summarized by a comment Marjorie Pay Hinckley once made.  She said, "Be kind.  Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."  I really do believe that.  Most battles we fight are ones that cannot be easily seen on the outside.  The best thing we can do for each other is to be kind.  Even when we don't understand.  Another moral- don't judge.  If we would spend less time judging and finding fault, we would all be happier and every struggle would seem easier.

I think the author got the feelings of dealing with these particular struggles down perfect.  These are hard subjects to talk about and tough feelings to deal with.  I like that there is a book out there that might help people understand these struggles and feelings better so we can be more kind and understanding.

This is an LDS based fiction book.  While there are many mentions of church and church meetings and interactions, there wasn't really any preaching.  It's more about finding the faith to continue even when things are hard.

When Maria Hoagland is not working at her computer, she can be found walking barefoot in soft grass, remodeling houses with her husband, or enjoying campfires with their three children. She loves crunching leaves in the fall, stealing cookie dough from the mixing bowl, and listening to musicals on her iPod. Maria earned her degree at Brigham Young University, and although she adores mountain resorts near her Idaho home, she is no longer a fan of ice skating.

Maria has two published novels: Nourish & Strengthen and Family Size. Her poems have been published in small magazines, and her short story "Diagnosis & Treatment" won first place in the Linda Hunter Adams writing contest at Brigham Young University.

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