Saturday, May 18

The Artist's Daughter by Alexandra Kuykendall- A Book Review

Hi Friends,  I know many of you are wondering how I am doing two weeks into my role as momma to three little girls!    I promise I have a post about that in the works (in my head anyway...getting it out onto the computer might be a whole different story!). In the meantime, I promised to post a review on this book and so here it is...All is well in Littlewood land...sleeping baby, busy big sisters (who are finally over their stomach bugs!) and lots of laundry and dust all over the house. We are finding our new rhythm and enjoying the moments...more to come on all of that!! 

Book Review: The Artist's Daughter, By Alexandra Kuykendall

   I loved the title and the cover of this book before I ever read a word of it. The long haired brunette, almost nine years old, sitting in a gondola flashing a sweet smile. The title, "The Artist's Daughter" in black lettering floating above the water in the sky.

     I assumed from the get go that I would enjoy the book. I love memoirs. I love true stories that have taken place in far away places I have never traveled to. I loved the idea of reading another mom's life story-- the memories that shaped her and framed her into the woman she is today and how that has impacted her own mothering journey.

     I also initially assumed that the title, "The Artist's Daughter", was a reference to the author as shaped by our heavenly father (knowing the little bit I did about Kuykendall and her work with MOPS International)-- a concept that I've always found intimately encouraging and reassuring as I make my way, trials and errors, through life.

     I was correct on many accounts. I did enjoy the book: A story that begins as Alexandra and her mother travel through Italy and Spain together just before her ninth birthday... I love the sense of adventure and the free spirit of her mother who takes on teaching jobs and is showing her only child the world at such a young age.

    However, as it turns out, the title is more of a reference to the author's absent Spanish artist father that she meets in Barcelona for the very first time that summer than the heavenly Father with whom she eventually does find a relationship with later in life (though her relationship with God is a significant part of the story). It is a story with much more heartbreak than I had initially expected. The story of a little girl, then teen girl, and eventually adult woman coming to terms with the realization that her father was so self-absorbed in his own interests that he wanted little to do with her.

     Alexandra eventually meets a number of young female mentors in her life who lead her towards a deep Christian faith and relationship with God. She meets and marries a man who seems like an incredibly sweet and supportive husband. And together they have four girls of their own, giving Kuykendall the chance (times 4!) to establish the traditional family unit that she desperately longed for as a child.

    "Even as I write these pages," Chapter 2 concludes, "I have a wheezy baby on my lap, home only hours from our latest visit to the emergency room. I have a toddler napping in a crib that she doesn't want to admit she's outgrown, and two reading and writing freckled girls who need to be picked up from school. That eight-year-old girl in Barcelona, that only child, would have been pleased to know that I almost always have a child at arm's reach and my fridge is full of Diet Coke."

     That paragraph, in many way, sums up the story. That there is hope for healing from our heartbreaks and that as mommas we don't need to carry the baggage from our past into our own families. We get to carve out our own stories and venture out on new paths in our journeys.

      All in all I thought this was a sweet story-- a story that although very different in many ways from my own childhood, that I could relate to on many levels as I strive to create my own family culture. Though it did feel as if the narrative was not as linear as I would have liked at times (that there were several stories going on in one), I found that I was ok with that because life is not linear...and this story is about real life.

     I also found the book to be a relatively easy and quick read that kept my attention (I read it in the last two weeks of my pregnancy!)...the perfect combination for busy moms.

For more information about the book click here...

About the Author

Alexandra Kuykendall lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Derek and their four daughters. She is on staff at MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers) where she is a regular

contributor and consulting editor to various publications and a frequent speaker for the organization. While she spends most days buckling and unbuckling car seats and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma, she manages to snatch minutes here and there to write about the quest for purpose in it all.

About the Book (from the publisher)

When Alexandra Kuykendall became a mother, she knew she had to go back to the beginning. To that hot July afternoon in Barcelona when she met her father for the first time. The only daughter of a single, world-traveling mother and an absent artist father, Alexandra embarks on a soul-searching trip into the past to make sense of the layers of her life-both the memories she experienced and the ones she wished for.

The Artist's Daughter will take you on a journey of discovery through childhood, marriage, and motherhood. Through short vignettes full of both wonder and heartache, Alexandra seeks answers to three life-defining questions: Am I lovable? Am I loved? Am I loving? If you long to better understand the path your life has taken, where it is heading, and who is guiding you, this revealing and refreshing story will push you toward those answers as it changes your heart.

(Thank you to Revell Books for sending a review copy of The Artist's Daughter in exchange for an honest blog review)

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