Who Gets The Drumstick?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day dear readers. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and realized that I never picked out a book for Memorial Day. So I had to go with plan B, searching through my to-read stacks for any book that even casually mentioned a person who died while they were in military service. I'm actually surprised that I managed to find one.

Today's book, "How would you like to go to your own wedding and have as observers and witnesses at the ceremony eighteen children who are already yours? Frank and Helen Beardsley did just that, and since then have gone on to have two more children. Their story - the individual tragedies that left them widow and widower, the "stranger than fiction" chain of events that brought them together, their courtship, their marriage, and above all how they and their children live, work, and play together - is here told engagingly, warmly, often movingly by Helen."

Today's book was what one of my favorite movies, Yours, Mine & Ours, was based on (not the mediocre version of that movie from 2005 which was nothing like the original, but the Lucille Ball/Henry Fonda version from 1968). I'm having a hard time deciding if I like the movie or the book better. The book has several advantages over the movie, the main one being the lack of cheesy 60's montage music (I challenge any of you to watch that movie and then try to get the song It's a Sometimes World out of your head). But it also has it's weak points, the book briefly mentions the difficulties that go into preparing breakfast and school lunches for 18 kids but there's nothing like getting to actually watch 30 eggs being fried at once (or maybe I'm the only one who is endlessly amused by crap like that).

Before talking about my favorite parts of the book, let's get my least favorite part out of the way: the emphasis the author put on how much she was like Frank's first wife. Apparently they looked so much alike that his younger children got confused and thought she was their first mother. They also had similar taste in clothes (including a favorite dress that both women apparently owned), dishes (they owned the same set), taste in furniture, favorite colors. I really wish the book had skipped over those little details because it came across as kind of creepy.

Now on to the good parts:

  • My favorite part of the book came towards the end when Helen and Frank add to their already large family by having two more children, bringing their grand total to 20 kids (ha, take that JimBob and Michelle). I had a hard time keeping the Duggar comparisons from running through my head while reading today's book, although I'm happy to report that the Beardsley's do not employ the "buddy system" (which is really just code for the parents sit on their butts all day while the kids run the house). The Beardsley children have household chores that they have to do and they occasionally had to help with younger siblings, but they weren't required to supervise the every movement of their younger siblings - they get to actually go off to school and act like children during the day (how shocking), while the parents stay at home and take care of the babies (it's a world gone mad).

  • The other thing that I really liked about the book was that the author was able to convey amusing stories about her children without it coming across as if she can't stand them. So many memoirs about parenthood seem to take the approach of trying to make their children sound as obnoxious as possible in order to get laughs, and that kind of thing wears thin for me very quickly. I'm totally in favor or telling the whole story and not sugar coating things but I don't understand books that take the approach of "isn't it cute that my kids a total brat" or "isn't it funny how screwed up my family is."

  • I also liked the part where the author was trying to convey how expensive groceries are for a family of 20 - but seeing as how the book was written in 1965 the amount ends up being far from shocking, $127.33. I have no idea what that would mean in today's world, so I found an inflation calculator online, and it said that $127.33 in 1965 would be the equivalent of $861.96 today.

I would definitely recommend this book, and the movie dear readers. Although you should definitely skip over the remake.