Recently, I read The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy. The reviews on Red Letter Reads are here.
From the publisher:
Summary: Priscilla Gilman, a teacher of romantic poetry who embraced Wordsworth’s vision of childhood’s spontaneous wonder, eagerly anticipated the birth of her first child, certain that he would come “trailing clouds of glory.” But as Benjamin grew, his remarkable precocity was associated with a developmental disorder that would dramatically alter the course of Priscilla’s dreams.
In The Anti-Romantic Child, a memoir full of lyricism and light, Gilman explores our hopes and expectations for our children, our families, and ourselves—and the ways in which experience may lead us to re-imagine them. Using literature as a touchstone, Gilman reveals her journey through crisis to joy, illuminating the flourishing of life that occurs when we embrace the unexpected.The Anti-Romantic Child is a profoundly moving and compellingly universal book about family, parenthood, and love.
Here are my unedited thoughts: (I edit them down before I send them to Red Letter Reads.)
In reading about this book I wanted to like it very much and to be able to recommend it to others because I have friends who are finding themselves grappling with some similar issues. That said, as soon as I started reading it, she started talking about Yale every other sentence. (I’d like to get a word count of the word “Yale” in the text.) The constant mention of Yale gave it a pretentious vibe made it difficult like it at all. (I have nothing against Yale or it’s alum, I struggle with people who want to shove it down your throat and use it to make themselves sound better than others.)
Also, her “poetic” views on how motherhood ”should be” made me want to yell, ”Grow the heck up lady, get a fricken grip!” I think even MTV’s Teen Mom’s have a better concept of it. Get a grip.
She has what could be a good story but it’s continuously interrupted with her Wordsworth quotes that don’t always seem to fit what she’s saying. If you don’t like Wordsworth or are not familiar with his work then its distracting. Ultimately, about half way through, I just skipped them altogether and don’t feel bad about it in the least.
I ended up liking the story, at least once I skipped the quotes and skimmed over any appearance of the word, ”Yale”. The last third made a good argument for re-examining your beliefs, but it took 2/3 of the book to even get me to want to finish it. I do have to wonder if this book would have been published if her dear friend wasn’t in publishing. You shouldn’t have to read 2/3 of a book before you want to finish it. There’s also the possibility that at 2/3 of the way through the book, it was sheer determination that took over and made me finish it. I’m not sure.
If you like Wordsworth or excessive quotes, you’ll likely enjoy this more than I did. I give it a C-.
If you want to read a book about re-examining your beliefs and challenging what you think you hold as true, read A Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress by Susan Jane Gilman
There you have it. If you’d like to read it, let me know and I’ll send it on.