I won this book from Early Reviewers on librarything.com, and I am so glad I did. What a relief it was to read a book that made me laugh, chuckle or smile on every page, a book I hated to put down because it was such a pleasure to read.
As this short novel explores the kindergarten year in the life of Maximilian Dixon through his mom’s hilarious portrayal of the class mom, the personalities and relationships she encounters are examined and exposed with all of the human frailties “that flesh is heir to”. Jen Dixon is the class mom extraordinaire, although at first that is not a universal opinion. The reader will witness the interaction of all of the Dixons, with their friends, fellow kindergarten parents, kindergarten children and their teacher. Life’s little pleasures will pop out of the story in expected and unexpected places. If nothing else, the book surely proves that we are all young inside our heads, no matter how old we are on the outside, and we all have our little secrets and dreams. It will prove that our lives shine no brighter than when we are happy and taking life in stride.
Jen Dixon is lucky and she knows it. She is enjoying the dessert of her life, as she describes her youngest child, five year old Max, who has just begun kindergarten. She has two older daughters who are already away in college. Her friend Nina who heads up the PTA has leaned on her to become a class mom. She certainly has had world class experience having been one for both her daughters. She provides a laugh a minute with her sarcastic emails, requests and expectations of the other moms, although some take umbrage at her style and do not laugh at all.
Anyone who has ever been a class mom or school volunteer will nod in agreement compulsively as Jen relates her activities and the pages fly by; they will find their lips turning up into a knowing smile as requests are made and duties are performed. Anyone who hasn’t had any experience in being a class mom will thoroughly enjoy her experiences vicariously, taking pleasure in being a voyeur into the life of Jen Dixon as she navigates her home life as a wife and mother and her outside life with all of its various temptations!
Max’s teacher is unusual. She presents a persona that alternates between a sex pot and a puritan. She is full of surprises, and she confounds some of the parents when they try to understand her. There is a parent and a child who never appear for the entire year; no one has met them! There are show offs, flirts and chronic complainers; in short, the book presents a picture that represents a slice of all of our lives, warts and all. The novel was nostalgic for me. It took me back to my days of being a school parent, my PTA days, my fundraising days, school party days and play date days. It reminded me of the camaraderie of neighbors, of watching each other’s children, of car pools and overnight sleepovers. It also reminded me of the friction that sometimes displayed itself which was followed by unity and friendships that blossomed when necessary to support a common cause. It brought back memories of happy children, school yards and school dances. The book reminded me of the dessert of my life.
Jen Dixon was what every parent might want to be even though she could be abrasive at times, because her tongue in cheek dialogue and messages were genuine, she was sincere. She spoke her mind; she was involved, and she was really a nice person when you scratched her surface. She was a joy to discover.