Thursday, June 12, 2008

Columnist’s New Book Serves Up Motherhood on Wry

Noted columnist Bassi Gruen’s just-published A Mother’s Musings is a delightful read. In a world of intimidating supermoms, here’s a book about a real woman dealing with the real challenges we all face. She has her doubts and her difficult days; she battles whiney toddlers and broken washing machines. And she doesn’t always win. She admits to it all with refreshing candor. Readers will likely find themselves here.

This is no kvetch journal. Far from it. Bassi takes us up a step or three. Each piece offers food for thought, an idea, a new interpretation of an old reality. Bassi mines motherhood for all the inspiration it has to offer. And she finds it right there amidst the dirty dishes and mismatched socks. Her pieces are anecdotal; she shares not just the events but also the inner conversations they sparked, lending a depth to the mundane, hinting to the sublime hidden within our lives.

A Mother’s Musings is divided according to the months of the year. Each month features a theme, with several vignettes loosely related to the theme. In this way, Bassi takes us through the year to embrace the ecstasy of Succos, the tragedy of Tisha B’av, the renewal of Pesach. But most of the book, like most of our lives, comprises the regular days - PTA meetings, work deadlines, picnics in the park - the thousand and one threads of activity that constitute life’s ordinariness. 

There are some fictional pieces interspersed as well, allowing us to explore the inner worlds of other mothers. In her stylized, multi-generational pieces, Bassi gives us a snapshot of Yom Tov in the lives of three women living in different countries, different centuries, yet united by the essence of the day. 

This book doesn’t easily yield to being labeled. It’s a collection of stories, yes, and while most are true, some morph into engaging fiction. It is light reading for certain, liberally spiced with wry humor, but many of the ideas leave you in a reflective posture. There are numerous chinuch concepts which are subtly implied through the stories. And while A Mother’s Musings is the story of a youngish mother, single girls, brand new mothers, great-grandmothers, and even men will also find it inspiring.

Here’s one new book not to miss. A Mother’s Musings will reward you with a whole new appreciation for motherhood.

See the Table of Contents and Sample Pages here

Order A Mother's Musings here

About the author: Bassi Gruen is a licensed social worker, an editor, and a freelance writer. She's published hundreds of articles in numerous Jewish publications. Bassi lives with her husband, her children, and her dreams in Beitar Illit.