1 out of 4 stars
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With a title like Thank You Mom For Teaching Me How To Love!, it's easy to assume that this is a sweet, heartfelt book in which author April Moore is thanking her wonderful mother for being so great. Based on the title alone, one might even give this to their own mother on Mother's Day, a birthday, or any other gift-giving occasion like a 29 page greeting card. There's more to a book than the title, though, and one would be making a bit of a mistake giving it as a gift without actually seeing what it's about.
In Thank You Mom For Teaching Me How To Love!, April is indeed thanking her mother for teaching her how to love as the title suggests. However, April's mother Norma actually taught this lesson through a life that was far more about what NOT to do rather than modeling superb motherhood herself. The book begins by detailing Norma's own childhood, which certainly wasn't an easy one either. Norma's parents divorced when she was young, and while her sister went off to live with her aunt and was given a great education and money, she wasn't allowed any freedom whatsoever herself. She hated her mother and, sadly, that dysfunctional family life led to a dysfunctional family life for April as well. April's childhood certainly isn't fantastic either. There were multiple husbands for Norma, and they were often abusive to Norma, April and her sister. Norma was also very against hugging and kissing her children and would yell at them when they tried.
When children get older and have kids of their own, one of two main things can happen - either they can continue the pattern of how they were raised, for better or worse, or they can learn from the way their parent(s) raised them and do it differently themselves. Luckily, April is in the latter camp: she learned from her cold, abusive, loveless childhood and took it as a lesson on how TO love. We aren't given much in the way of examples; April's parenting style isn't shown much in the book, but it's clear that she blames her mother for her knowing how to love.It's not the way you treated me when you raised me, but it must have been the perfect way because now it is such a natural thing for me to give the compassion that was so absent in my life.
What was odd about Thank You Mom For Teaching Me How To Love! is just how little actual content there was. This is a very short book, only 29 pages, and about half of it is April talking about the importance of various things - forgiveness, gratitude, love, not just watching TV all day, avoiding hate, etc. This leaves very little room for April to show actual examples of demonstrating the love she learned from her mother. The chapters discussing her mother's life and her own are brief, cursory glances. In fact, the chapter entitled "My Childhood" is a quarter of the book, but only a page or two discusses her own marriage and parenting (and one paragraph even mentions she had her daughter arrested when she was 16, but she says she'll give details on that in another book). Instead, the lessons she learned are discussed here and there in every chapter, and the last couple chapters entirely focus on forgiveness.
The biggest downfall to this book is the lack of editing. I found more errors than there were pages in this book; in a book this long I could forgive a couple errors, but over 30 is a rather terrible. These range from simple, unimportant errors like forgetting a comma or making one word into two ("life time") to errors that made me stumble and re-read sentences to make sense of something. There was one paragraph I had to just ignore entirely because I couldn't make sense of it - she writes about her mom, and then makes it sound like her mother is standing in front of her whispering "I'm sorry Niece", which made no sense no matter how many times I reread the paragraph.
April makes some good points in the book, including the importance of families spending more time together, turning off the hate on TV, the challenging-yet-vital importance of forgiving those who have wronged us and taking responsibility for our own actions. One of my favorite quotes is at the very end, where she includes a step-by-step list of how to live a good life. Here, in step three, she writes "Take responsibility for your actions (if you wouldn't tell your grandma, then don't do it)". This is such a perfect way to test whether an action is good or bad! When I was in elementary school a teacher once told me that a good person does good things even when they know they'd never be caught, but I liked this method of judgement even more. I'd rate this book 1.5 stars if I could, but with as many errors as there are and how little I picked up from it, I feel compelled to rate this 1 out of 4 stars. There's a little promise here and there, and she does make some good points, but as a whole I can't recommend this book to anyone. There are a couple points in the book where she says she could write another book about things (including the aforementioned arrest of her own daughter), and if these were all merged into one book with some solid editing and more depth I could certainly see wanting to read it.
Thank you mom for teaching me how to love
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