I’m reviewing this for Tiber River, the super-duper Catholic book review program where I can earn stuff by reviewing other stuff. It’s still pending, but I saw today that Lisa’s book now has a downloadable discussion guide and an e-version for the Kindle or your computer. And she’s even doing this thing via what-the-kids-call “Skype” where you can participate in interactive chats with her. Pretty cool – now, on to the review.
In The Handbook for Catholic Moms, Lisa Hendey has assembled a treasure trove of practical suggestions for all areas of Catholic motherhood. But what’s exceptional about her book is that you can read it, recognize areas you may need to work on, and not feel crummy. That’s a rare thing for me, with my love/hate relationship with motherly advice books.
It’s her tone – firm but not preachy, admitting her own struggles, and staying positive without sugar-coating the challenges we face as moms. Hendey also doesn’t write for just one type of mother. She provides ideas for moms at all points on the “working” spectrum – those who hold down full-time jobs, those who homeschool, and anyone in between. The book also includes special chapters for single parents, adoptive familes, and families with special-needs children.
The book is very readable in short “chunks,” which is how I tend to approach advice books. Hendey has divided the book into four sections – Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Within each section, every chapter follows a logical format. She begins with stories of her own experiences, which lead into a general discussion of the topic at hand – why it’s important, how to approach things like fitness or organization (um, two areas at which I do not excel, to put it mildly) from the perspective of our faith. The chapter concludes with “Mom’s Homework” assignments and relevant online resources.
Hendey’s book also contains contributions from Catholic moms at a variety of stages in their lives, so it’s more like you’re hanging out in the kitchen with these ladies, sharing stories, than sitting in an audience being lectured. It was a treat to come across names of other writers I’ve enjoyed and to recognize their unique voices.
This is a book you could give to a friend and not worry that she’ll wonder if you’re trying to suggest that she embark on a quest for self-improvement. I’m happy to have discovered it and will turn to it again and again over the years.