The Garden Of Small Beginnings

By Abbi Waxman

ISBN: 9780399583582

Author Website:


Brought to you by OBS reviewer jerjen


Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.

At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.

After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not… (Goodreads)


Lili is a widow with two small children.  She lost her husband in a car accident and she is just trying to get through life the best way she knows how.  She has her daughters to raise, a job to go to and dog to take care of.  What more does she need?

She has a job at an illustrating company, and she has been assigned to work on a vegetable campaign.  Her boss has signed her up to take a gardening class, so she can get up close and personal with vegetables.  She agrees to go and her life is not the same after she takes her first class.  She makes friends with the other students in the class and she thinks the instructor is easy on the eyes.  With her new friends, her children and her sister taking the class, she learns a lot about gardening and even more about life.

The characters are well rounded, well developed and three dimensional. Lili is sarcastic, witty and very down to earth.  She is a strong woman who has had her share of heartache.  After suffering from a nervous breakdown and thoughts of suicide shortly after her husband died, she has pulled herself together.  With the help of her sister, Rachel, she is raising her children and carrying on with her life.  I enjoyed getting to know all of them better.  I really enjoyed the bickering and banter between Lili and Rachel, it seemed very real to me.  The children added a lot to the story and I enjoyed spending time with them, also.  In fact, the cast of characters were a delight to meet and get to know better.

This is a story about love, loss, seconds chances and growing stronger in the face of adversity.  The author is very talented in her writing and she had me laughing and crying in the same chapter.  There were a lot of times that I laughed out loud.  I do not think that is an easy thing to do and I think this takes a special talent.  The author did a wonderful job taking a very sad and serious issue and writing about it in a heartwarming and insightful way.  She wrote about it with humor and realism.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well written women’s fiction.  If you want a book that will make you think, make you laugh and that will stay with you after you finished it, give this book a try.  There was some language contained in the book that would not make it suitable for young adult readers, in my opinion.  To me the language just made it seem more realistic.  I am looking forward to reading the next book by this author.  I hope I do not have to wait too long.