Dusting Off the Blog and a Review of How to Make a French Family

Welcome, Readers!

how to make a French family

A new book by Samantha Vérant is coming out on April 4.

Picture me with a bucket of water with a little all-purpose cleaner diluted in it, multiple rags, and a feather duster. I’m taking this blog out of storage and cleaning her up, trying to polish up the dusty, dry places in order to present you with a long-overdue post. Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine (it’s five o’clock somewhere!) — this is me here. Those of you who used to read my blogs at An Alien Parisienne will know what I’m talking about. Buckle up, buttercup. Prepare to read. TL;DR – I’m basically doing fine, still very single, mostly employed, and my friend Samatha Vérant has written another wonderful book called How to Make a French Family and you should go over to Amazon or another book retailer of your choice, buy it, and read it. 

The last I wrote here, it was January of 2015 and I was living with my parents, working in retail for minimum wage. I am going to try, in a few bullet points, to sum up two years of what’s happened, and then get on with my reason for posting.

  • I did, eventually, move out of my parents’ home.

  • I got a job teaching English to international students at Colorado State University starting in May of 2015. With glee, I resigned from the disposable clothing store where I had been working.  I was, unfortunately, laid off from the university job in December of 2016, but not before making friends with many students and other teachers and having many successful teaching moments at my alma mater (I got my B.A. there).

  • I have lived in three different roommate situations in two years. I first moved out of my parents in August 2015 and into a situation with a 24-year-old (it turns out) rather spoiled child-woman who got a DUI within a few weeks of my moving in. She projected all her “mommy issues” onto me until it became unbearable. The final straw after many incidents with her was that she had “borrowed without prior authorization” some clothing from me, and I decided enough was enough. I got out of there after six months of tolerating the situation.

  • In March of 2016, I moved in with a wonderful couple, also in their 20’s but much more grown up. The apartment was in Fort Collins only a few minutes away from my son’s elementary school and the university. It was synchronous-timing that I found them, mutually-beneficial, and I am still friends with them today. I’m so thankful to have met Kenny and Christy and for their opening their home to me for 10 months.

  • After getting laid off from Colorado State, something that had honestly been a possibility every few weeks throughout 2016 and which had led to much stress, I almost immediately was hired part-time to teach refugees and immigrants with a non-profit organization in the nearby city of Greeley, Colorado. I also moved into a lovely recently-remodeled 1920s Craftsman home in Loveland in Jamuary 2017 with a friend I have known for over 15 years and her 23-year-old daughter. We had reconnected in 2016, and we both needed a roommate, so here I am, living in a beautiful house in bucolic Northern Colorado.

  • As for my romantic life, it’s non-existent. I was briefly involved with someone special to me in 2014, and throughout 2015 up to the present there have been many ups and downs with said individual (we are currently friends, but only in contact sporadically and he no longer lives in Colorado — and he has been in a relationship since late 2015, so I have written off the entire situation, for the most part). I have not so much as been on a date since three years ago. I’m fine with that. I’ve had occasional internet weirdos try to get something going, but I’m SO not into that at this juncture of my life, I basically shooed each one away. I have felt a bit like Penelope and her suitors. I’m content to keep weaving my cloth and running my household until my Odysseus can return back home. He’s out there, somewhere, and as soon as the gods help him negotiate Scylla and Charybdis and the Sirens, I expect him to show up at my doorstep. I’m staying faithful to that hope.

  • My youngest kiddo is in 5th grade. He’s a totally young X-chromosome human being and I am glad I had practice with his older sibling (who is finishing up his junior year at Rochester Institute of Technology). He is an incessant consumer of YouTube gaming videos and Minecraft, a budding Lacrosse player, and a prodigious farter.

If you want to see pictures of the various things going on in my life, a good place to follow is on Instagram. My account is here: karinlynn68

Okay. I think that’s it. On to my real reason for dusting off the old blog.

Back in October of 2015, I received, read, and reviewed Samantha Vérant’s Seven Letters from Paris. You can read my review here: Seven Letters from Paris – A Review

Samantha’s story parallels my own in so many ways, as I expressed back at that time. As a result of my review and (full disclosure) of my becoming friends with Samantha on social media (she’s connected to so many expats I met and became friendly with in Paris during my time there and it’s my pleasure to be connected to her, too), I was given the opportunity to read a preview copy of her newest book which is coming out on April 4, 2017, How to Make a French Family.

Also full disclosure: I received access to the galley of this book on October 27, 2016. I went to a teacher’s conference in Denver, Colorado on the weekend of November 4-6, 2016 and I stayed with my dad and stepmom in a small town about 25 miles south of Denver. During that weekend, I devoured the book. I could not put it down.

Last disclosure about this: I had all of these wonderful ideas about how to review this book as I was reading it, but I was so excited to read it that I didn’t write down any notes. I just was really, really INTO it and then I finished it.

Then I got laid off. Then I moved. Then I started a new job. And now all of a sudden, Samantha’s book is at its publication date, I “owe” her a review as a galley reader, and I’m sitting here saying, “Oh shit” because I’m trying to remember all the cool things I wanted to say about this book, but which I can’t totally remember.

Here’s what does stand out to me five months later:

  • I could not put this book down. I came home after the conference, had dinner with my dad and stepmom, and retreated to the guest bedroom where I read and read until falling asleep. It took me two nights and most of a Sunday to finish it and I know I enjoyed it tremendously. It ate this book up.

  • I, too, moved to France to be with a man I loved and I also had two step-children just like Samantha. I went through many of the same things she did in adjusting to a new life in France and experiencing the bumps along the way of integrating into a new country and an existing family structure. I remember as I was reading I was thinking, “Am I enjoying this so much because I experienced something so similar to Samantha?” Well, yes, of course I think that is part of the appeal of the memoir for me. But I also remember thinking that anyone who has ever had to adjust to blending together a family, which is most adult people these days as so many people experience divorce and remarriage with families, would enjoy reading about how Samantha chose to approach doing this in her marriage to Jean-Luc and with her stepkids, Elvire and Max. Plus, this all happens in France. Who doesn’t love to “armchair travel” to France?

  • This book has amazing recipes that integrate beautifully with the story. I still have dietary restrictions such as not eating gluten, dairy, or meat products. Here’s what I learned about myself reading a memoir with recipes: I can do it now and not feel “left out” or envious that I don’t eat a lot of the foods in the recipes presented in the book. But, the good news is that there are also recipes that are suitable for people like me. I highlighted them. I need to buy a paper version of the book so that I can highlight them with a real marker and not a Kindle highlight tool (I’m not very good with e-readers and retrieving information I want and need from them). But trust me: there are yummy foods in the book and I intend to make the ones that I can eat once I get a non-electronic copy of the book.

  • Samantha is down-to-earth and authentic in presenting the challenges she faced in making her French family her family. This book is real. It shows what happens after the initial romance of meeting someone and getting married to that person. It reveals the raw realities of such, and this is the part I remember most and liked best about the book. These are the parts that made me laugh and cry with recognition in my own life.

Samantha, if you are reading this, I give you many gold stars for this book and I hope many people read this follow-up to Seven Letters in Paris.  Just a little note if you haven’t read Samantha’s first memoir: I am pretty sure you could step into this book and not need to read the first one as Samantha sums up the story of how it is that she got to France in the first place in her newest memoir. But I encourage you to read both as they are both so good!

I think that’s all. Get the book. You will enjoy it.

And as for me, who knows. I may be back at this blog. It certainly was fun to come back here and have a good reason to write about something. Thank you for visiting and for reading.

Over and out.

Yours, still looking for ballast,

Karin

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