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Grown & Flown

Hi! It’s been a while. 

For those who know me in real life, they know my Man and I moved our eldest boy up to university last week. Lovely readers, I can put hand to heart and swear to you, never in all the years and tears of parenting did I think I would be this emotional. Ever. But I was an absolute mess. So much so, it’s taken me over a week to publish this piece – I needed some time and space away from my Big Feelings. Perspective is a wonderful thing. 

File this under things no one really warns you about: when your child leaves home, as in leaves home and goes out into the world kind of leaves home, you will be absolutely floored.

We’ve sent all 3 of our kids away every summer for years. I’ve shed a few tears at the bus, but within a day or two, I was happy for them to be far away at camp and for my guy and I to enjoy our freedom and each other. When it comes to milestones, I cry at all of ‘em. But this? This wasn’t just a pit in my stomach accompanied by the odd teary eye. I felt like I was emotionally sucker-punched. 

Speaking to friends who’ve sent their kids off, I knew it’d be….difficult….But now the real stories are coming out of the woodwork. Like the one that felt like she’d suffered a trauma; the one who felt it so acutely in her body she thought she’d collapse; the one who could barely look at his child without dissolving into tears; and the many who didn’t stop crying for weeks or even months!  Why doesn’t anyone talk about this? How could I have been so unprepared for the tsunami of feelings washing over me at the most random of moments? I knew I loved my kid, but this much? It was ugly-crying central over at my place. 

I’ve set the first one free, turned him loose in the world. I’m not worried about what he’ll be because I know who he already is. He’s soulful and smart, super funny and sensitive. He’s not the most emotive texter in town, but he does FaceTime. Our house feels very odd with one down, even with two more still here. I look at the younger two, and want to hug them both a little closer, squeeze them a little tighter because before I know it, they’ll be gone too. Which is exactly what I hope for them. 

Now that I’m (kind of) adjusting to the new normal, I’m able to get through the days without crying (at least about this). It’s weird being an observer, rather than a participant. I know it’s not the Beginning of the End. But it is the End of the Beginning. So I’m sad, but I’m happy. It’s wonderful, and it sucks. The Days are Long and the Years are Short.  Parenting Never Ends. Blah blah blah….The cliches are coming in hot, probably because they’re all true. And then of course there’s this one: They’ll be Back.

Then….and Now….

September 13, 2021   1 Comment


MOAM Book Club – COVID-19 Edition (Part 1)

First off, wash your hands. 20 seconds (don’t cheat).

Kudos to those of you whose creativity has sparked and who have been doing on-line workouts and organizing their cupboards and taking freebie courses. Me? Between the compulsive checking of social media and forwarding of funny memes and gifs I find it hard to focus on anything else, meal-planning and stretchy pants aside.

Until today that is. Today, I put on jeans (to ensure they still fit) and am self-isolating in my bedroom office to bring you my latest MOAM Book Club. You’ll find no classics, should-reads, or any sort of pandemic fiction. You will, however, find some great books I’ve enjoyed recently. I hope you’ll enjoy them too.

UPDATE: I started writing this post earlier this week. I am no longer wearing my jeans, but I did put in my contact lenses as I was starting to get those annoying dents on my nose. I’ve been doing a lot of chatting on the phone, enjoying zoom drinks, and didn’t get as far as I thought I would.

Consider this the first part of my list, to be continued as the week(s?) goes on. Another thing to consider: if you click on the book titles, or the pretty pics, you should be redirected to Amazon. And if you buy from that link, I just may make around $0.14… Every little bit helps…

So, without further ado – here are some books reccos. Would love to hear what you think..

Ask Again, Yes This story about two NYPD families reads like a movie. Two rookie cops live next door to one another in the ‘burbs. All is peachy keen until The Event that tears them apart. The book follows the kids from each family as their paths cross and uncross. An examination of love, memory, mental illness and forgiveness.

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: Another brilliant novel by the author of The Underground Railroad (which you should also read. See review here) If you’re looking for uplifting, move on. This one’s a killer. A black boy in the deep south in the 60’s finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of heading off to college, he is sent to a juvenile corrections centre with disastrous results. Based on the true experiences of ward in a reform school in Florida, this is a brutal, yet amazing read.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: Forget about this being a sequel to the book The Handmaid’s Tale. Think of it as a continuation of the TV series. This felt like Atwood wanted to ensure that the future seasons of the show followed her vision, as opposed to the show runners (remember Game of Thrones going off-book?) No question it’s a great book – a Booker winner? Hmm….I needed to read it to tie up the stories of Gilead. And the book does just that. With a bow.

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess: Twenty-something Eve is an aspiring writer with zero confidence. After quitting her entry-level publishing job, she lands a job as an assistant to a bigwig writer, ready to embrace life in the summertime cottage fast lane that is Cape Cod. Cue bad choices, unrequited crushes, family dynamics and angst and you’ve got yourself a fun, somewhat soapy read. Some may also over-identify with their own experiences in similar worlds in their ‘20’s….Maybe.

Turbulence by David Szalay: This is a super short, super swift read about connection and turbulence – both in the air and on the ground. Each chapter follows a different situation in a different city (divided by airport code – pretty cute framing device). These little snapshots left me wanting more, but I liked ’em while they lasted.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano: Speaking of turbulence….Dear Edward is the story of a 12-year old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. That’s right. I was terrified to read this book but I’m so happy I did. Napolitano flips back and forth from the flight, and the stories of those on board, to Edward’s new life. This is a fast-paced, devastating yet exhilarating story. Even though you brace yourself for what you know if coming, you can’t look away. With all travel on pause for the next while, it’s the perfect time to crack this one open. Get your kleenex handy.

The Dutch House – Anne Patchett: This family drama takes place over the course of 50 years. After growing up in a Gatsby-esque world of splendour, a brother and sister find themselves booted out of the family home when their dad remarries. This is their story as they back to check on “their” house year after year, reflecting on their lives, where they were, where they are, and where they think they’re going.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum: This story takes us inside the lives of a Palestinian family in Brooklyn. Old school rules clash with modern expectations with tragic results. This is the generational story of the daughters of tradition trying to raise their voices – and have them heard. I loved it.

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Griffin: Looking for a good, fun, cheese-read? Look no further! This one reminded me a tiny bit of Celeste Ng’s books mixed with the Netflix show Elite. New money, old money and no money all clash at a fancy Nashville school when nudey pics get sent around. And while we always want to be on our kids’ side, should we?

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. If magical realism isn’t your thing, move on. But if it is, you’ll get right into this poetic novel. Slavery, separation of families, justice and reunification. There is a lot going on in these pages in terms of people, places, time and space. I keep re-writing and deleting plot summaries but each time I either complicate, or over-simplify, what this book is all about. It’s brutal and beautiful and reminds me so much of Toni Morrison’s work. It haunted me long after I finished it.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins: Oh, where to begin with this one? There is so much noise surrounding this book. Short version: the novel was getting a lot of positive press, even receiving Oprah’s coveted blessing. And then the controversy and criticism took over: cultural appropriation, trauma porn, right-story-wrong-voice, the list goes on (google for more info). This movement of who can tell what stories makes me very uncomfortable (see: Joseph Boyden, author of one of my all-time faves, The Orenda – which you should read if you haven’t. Review here). Every reader must make their own decision on what books they will read. This one is a fictionalized tale of a mother and son escaping gang violence in Acapulco, trying to make their way North to the US. I could write an entire blog post on this book alone, and am happy to have an actual book club meeting about it anytime. But for now, read it for yourself. Or don’t.


March 26, 2020   2 Comments


MOAM Book Club Summer 2019

Oops. I started writing this post way back in July when the summer was stretched out in front of me. And now it’s almost over. But not quite. The days are still long and if you try really hard it’s possible to channel that summery vibe. Especially if you step outside and feel the heat (and humidity. #MonicafromFriends) If you can’t stand the heat, get into the air con – with a fabulous book or three. Here is your MOAM Book Club – Summer Edition. Better late than never…

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This book introduced me to Reese Witherspoon’s book club. I know, I can’t believe I typed that either. But it did and I’m so glad because while all her choices aren’t for me (The Library. Half fab. Half agony), this one was amazing. Terrific storytelling about a wild child growing up alone in the marshes of North Carolina. I couldn’t put it down. Neither will youC

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney

This debut novel is an award-winning, buzzed-about book by a young and super talented new voice. A college-aged couple of exes find themselves entangled with an older, “cooler” married couple….A lot of feelings are felt and analyzed and while I didn’t actually love it, I appreciated the writing itself so I’m keeping it on the list. Also because Rooney’s second novel was incredible.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

This sophomoric outing by Sally Rooney grabbed me from page one and wouldn’t let me go. This is a love story between two high schoolers who become secret friends, then lovers, then exes… on repeat. They drift apart and are drawn back together over the years, from school to college to beyond graduation. I adored it and may have finished it in about 3 days.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

This is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in the close-knit Muslim community in Toronto. This isn’t a particularly challenging read, but I’m a Jane Austen fan and this was a frothy, fun read that is perfect for summer – or anytime.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I absolutely adored this epic, award-winning novel. A generational saga set in Korea and Japan, this was a sweeping, heart-breaking and absolutely fantastic study of characters, history, class and family. One story would cede into the next in a totally satisfying way and I can honestly say that despite being over 500 pages, it wasn’t long enough!

Golden Child: A Novel by Claire Adams

Set in rural Trinidad, this is the tale of a family with twin sons: one is a genius who brings his family nothing but joy while the other is a challenging, non-conforming boy who brings nothing but trouble. A series of events leads the family to grapple with the age-old issue of how far they would go to ensure the success if their children? And at what expense? Heartbreaking.

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

Four siblings are left to their own devices while their mom endures a period of depression. Another decade-spanning saga of characters that grow apart and reconnect. I fully invested in each of the siblings and, while the book isn’t perfect, it’s a beautifully written exploration of love, loss and family.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

Every review of this book compares it to An American Marriage and The Mothers and, frankly, I couldn’t put it better myself. When Althea, the eldest of three girls, and her husband are arrested, the younger sisters must return to their childhood home to care for their teenage nieces as the trial looms. Facing demons, understanding memories and all the angst and emotions that go with it are beautifully layered in this story of family and forgiveness that is page turning and fabulous.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t read this story of the rise and fall of the legendary 70’s band? Really?? What are you waiting for? The series? Yes, an adaptation of the “definitive history” is in the works. And yes, it’s fiction. Cleverly written as an oral history, complete with interviews with the band and their entourage, Daisy Jones is the perfect end-of-summer easy, breezy read.

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

When a woman loses her best friend, she finds herself saddled with his unwanted dog, a troubled and mourning Great Dane. Obviously, I was all over this book. It’s a little trippy and unconventional, but I loved this study of friendship, loss, love and relationships – between friends, lovers, and dogs.

The Secrets Between Us / The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

I had The Space Between Us on my to-read list for years. And I’m so glad I held off reading this incredible story about a disillusioned upper-middle class housewife and her illiterate, long-term maid and confident. Why so glad, you ask? Because by the time I finished the book, 8 years after it was published, the sequel had been released! I was able to keep going with this unbelievable story of modern India, castes, class, gender and friendship. Lucky me – and now, lucky you!!

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

The tagline of this novel is “friends come and go…ambition is forever”. Kinda cheesy, but kinda fun in a single-white-female way! Two friends: one has it all. One wants it all. BFF’s become frenemies. You know the drill. Except you don’t. Read on…

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

I love me a multi-generational family drama. This one starts in the 70’s and follows a couple, their four daughters and their extended family as they navigate the ups and downs of marriage, sisterhood and relationships. Throw a secret adopted kid into the mix, add some serious dysfunction, and then try to put this one down.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Just when he thought he’d come to terms with the end of his 15-year marriage, Toby Fleishman finds himself charting new territory when his ex-wife disappears. People are loving this perceptive story of marriage, relationships and the narratives we tell ourselves. I felt the lead up was way too long and the big reveal, when it comes, was underp-explored. Still, everyone keeps asking if I’ve read it and loved it. Yes, I have. But no, I didn’t.

Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Years by Ruth Reichl

This memoir traces Reichl’s rise through the food-writing ranks: from freelance foodie, to NY Times restaurant critic, to helming Gourmet magazine from its peak to its demise. Entertaining, (ahem) dishy, and delicious – plus there are recipes!!

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Oh, Elizabeth Gilbert. How I love your writing. And how I long to edit your storytelling. There’s such great juicy stuff in this book, and it’s a quick and engaging read. I loved world of the 1930’s NYC Theatre set. I loved the premise of a “naughty girl” sent from the suburbs to stay with her flamboyant aunt. I love that she found her freedom – sexual and otherwise – and met a slew of compelling, wild characters. But I hated the narration/framing device. Like Eat, Pray, Love – I loved the Eat, loathed the Pray, and liked the Love. Two outta three ain’t bad….

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

This timely “me-too” story of feminism and friendship is bound to be adapted for TV sometime soon. It already reads like an episodic TV series. Even as I devoured it, I couldn’t believe I liked it. There’s more than a hint of Big Little Lies in these pages and though it isn’t nearly as great, there’s something about this tale of corporate cover ups, ambition and sisterhood that had me hooked.

Machines like Me by Ian McEwan

Disclosure: I am a massive Ian McEwan fan. He could write out a grocery list and I’d read it. Even when he’s flawed, he’s fab. This book is set in an alternate version of 1980’s Thatcherite London and revolves around a threesome: Charlie, a lazy and lost day trader, his neighbour Miranda, with whom he’s in love, and Adam, a far-too-human AI bot. Intriguing, philosophical, and, as always, crazy clever. McEwan has re-written a history. And while it isn’t quite on par with some of his other works, it’s thought-provoking and brilliant.

AUDIBLE: I’m obsessed with my Audible app. I spend way too much time walking my beast dog and Audible has made me want to walk even more. I have no doubt these books are just as good in print, but holy shit are they compelling in the ears!!!

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Brilliant journalism. Phenomenal narration. The author has sent 8 years embedded in the lives of three very different women in this study of female desire. Sounds like a movie, reads like a novel and is non-fiction at its best.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb: A Therapist, HER Therapist and Our Lives Revealed.

The title says it all. The author is genius in every way and I loved everything about this book – except the narration. I wish I had read this on the page instead of listening. But once I got over the voice I got really into it. You will too. Amazing on every level.

You Don’t Look Your Age…and Other Fairy Tales by Sheila Nevins

O.M.G. Spit takes, snot rockets and overall laugh-out-loud bits of this book put a spring in my step and a smile on my step. Nevins’ essays on aging, errors, and other nightmares is accompanied by a star-studded cast of narrators and is sensational. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. And you’ll laugh some more.

Life Will be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler

This is Chelsea’s story of her year of therapy and self-discovery. She narrates her own story with bravery, gusto and hilarity. Dark, funny and sad all at once. I’m a fan.


August 22, 2019   2 Comments


Winter Break

Vacation was calling. And I was listening…

A few weeks ago I was presented with an opportunity for my kids and I to escape winter and head down to sunny Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a long weekend. Said weekend happened to be Family Day and my boys had a mid-winter break from school. My husband was busy with work so I told my kids the good news…and was met with an awkward silence. My youngest son, age 10, told me he wanted to stay home with his father to have special one-on-one time. I didn’t mind, as it gave me a chance to hang with my big boys, ages 13 and 15. Next, my 13-year-old reminded me that his hockey team was fighting for a playoff spot and he couldn’t miss the games. That left my eldest, he of the similar interests and sympatico vibes. When I told him it was just him ‘n me, he cringed and told me he’d rather stay home.

Naturally I flew off the handle.

Insulted and hurt, I yelled at them all and stomped off, dramatically. And my eldest son yelled right back, exasperated. “You always tell us to be honest, so why are you getting so mad at me?” He was absolutely right. Why was I getting so upset? Here’s my 15 year-old boy with school work and friends and XBox who knows himself really well. And realized, before I did, that he’d likely be bored hanging out poolside with “a bunch of old people”.

Cringing at the “old” part, I begrudgingly acknowledged that he was right. I’m not the parent who throws around a football, plays water volleyball or roughhouses in the pool. I’m the reader. The lounger. The dinner entertainment. I tried luring him down with offers of surfing lessons, and even suggested he bring a friend, but he was having none of it. He asked me if, when I was 15, I would’ve gone with my mom to visit my grandparents. Obviously I would. And I did. With or without parents, and often with my brother, I jumped at the chance to escape winter and head down to Florida to visit the grandparents in the concrete jungle they called their southern home, Palm Aire.

Palm Aire was built around a golf course, surrounded by apparent no-go areas, and I loved to hate it. I’d lie out by the pool with the grandmothers and their final-net super sprayed hairdos that couldn’t get wet or be touched, fending off questions about boyfriends and marriage. My Zaidy would golf, or swim a couple of lengths before grabbing his paper and a seat next to me. We’d go for early-bird dinners and watch a lot of television. While my brother would often test the grandparents’ patience by rollerblading the 5 miles to the beach, or disappearing to meet up with rando friends he’d make on the daily, I’d hang out with my grandmother as she’d share stories and gossip. We’d join my grandfather at the local dirty bakery to pick up day-old bagels he could scoop out and fill with cottage cheese. They’d drop me off at Loehmann’s Plaza or take me to The Flea. I think I bought a pink Sony Walkman 3 years in a row. If it rained and they were feeling particularly wild ‘n crazy we’d bypass Burdine’s and drive to The Galleria, where Saks and Bloomingdale’s were waiting. My grandparents loved it as much as I did, encouraging me to try and buy. “If you love it”, they’d say, “buy two”. Ann Taylor, The Limited, Express, Victoria’s Secret and, of course, the holy grail: Polo Ralph Lauren for stripey button downs and rugby shirts. I’d fly back home tanned, overfed, and excited to show my friends all the contraband clothing I smuggled passed customs

But those were the 19080’s. And this is now. When I pictured my boys between the hours of noon and 6PM, I knew they’d be going out of their minds. No one to run around with or play with. They weren’t into lounging and chatting, shopping and eating. Regardless of whatever adventure I dangled as bait (Surfing! Zip-lining! Fishing! Day trips!) they simply weren’t biting. My eldest explained that I shouldn’t take it personally, it just wasn’t as fun without another kid around. Was I hurt? Yes. Did I get over it? Yes. And did I still ditch my family over Family Day weekend to go to Mexico? Damn right!  When I called to tell the grandparents the news, that it was just me flying south, they didn’t even pretend to hide their delight. Sure, they missed my kids, their grandchildren. But they were thrilled to have their daughter to themselves for a fast 4 days. Four days of lounging and chatting, shopping and eating. And when I returned the snowy Sunday of the long-weekend, with novelty-tees, tequila and Mexican chocolate, it was just in time to spend Family Day with my family. And to remind me that flying south to visit the grandparents really is the best way to spend time, with or without the kids.


March 6, 2019   2 Comments


Writers Write

I have been writing this blog, in one format or another, for 13 years. T.H.I.R.T.E.E.N. From the earliest and far more frequent blogspot days up until the sporadic postings of today, I’ve been “a blogger”. Now I call this “my website”, rather than my blog, but it is whatever it is: restaurant reccos, film and TV reviews, rants, raves and, of course, my book club. There have been celeb photobombs and selfies, mini-travelogues and motherhood musings. But most of all, it’s been a place I can come to write. Kernels of ideas, nuggets of wisdom, food for thought – name your metaphor, it’s been all that (and more) for me. Often I wonder if there’s anybody out there. So to those who read, bookmark and forward to friends, I thank you. And to the many who ask “why don’t you just write a book?”, I say: believe me, I’m trying. And maybe one day I will. But in the meantime, I write what I can. For myself, for the people who pay me, and for you.

I’m trying to embrace my vulnerability without diffusing it with humour. Sounds cheesy. And feels gross. It’s really really hard. And takes a shit-ton of practice. In the meantime, there’s this…

“Writers write. She’s always known that. She used to live by the rule, writing faithfully every day. Jotting in her journal, completing assignments, even copying out interesting sayings, song lyrics, or what she deemed to be poetic. Writers write. So she wrote. Snippets of overheard conversations. Concerns and frustrations about lovers and family. How she wanted to be treated. How she was treated. How she treated others. No matter what was happening in her life, she was a writer. And writers write. So she wrote too. Articles, reviews, screenplays, television pilots. Imaginary dialogue she wished she herself had the balls to speak aloud. Confessions she dreamed she would hear. She was a writer. She defined herself by the term. She told anyone who asked. She never shirked away from her daily page requirements. That’s just the way it was. Because writers write.

Until they don’t.

Until they find themselves overcome by the day to day living of their lives. She got lucky. She worked freelance. She met the man of her dreams, who loved her right back. They got married. Bought a loft, then a house, and then one more. Got a dog. Had a baby. Had two more. And soon the words on the page became less frequent. At first, she couldn’t find the time. But then she couldn’t find the words. Letters on pages became by meals on tables. Overheard conversations turned into recipe adaptations. The joy of looking up after a day spent at her keyboard, living an imaginary life and creating characters, dialogue, and scenes were replaced with school runs, grocery shops and bedtimes. Meetings turned into appointments.

Just like that she went from a writer who writes to a mom who mothers. From someone who was a respected “something”, to an unheard, oft-ignored nothing. The most important job in the world, she’d hear when she muttered she was “just a mom”. But she knew better. It was so obvious. It was a volunteer position. Where she worked for tiny tyrants who ruled her life. Her home felt like a prison at times, her family its warden.

The years went past and the kids grew more independent. Sort of. They didn’t always want her anymore, though they still needed her. They always would, in some capacity. She didn’t need them, but she wanted them. She loved them. But she was starting to wonder what she had given up to “have it all”. Her freedom. Her body. Her mind. She knew writers needed to write, but she found it almost impossible to do so. And when she did sit down, hands on keyboard and screen glowing brightly, she found herself in a spiral of rage. Her imagination dulled, she would spill out her feelings about her family, her friends, her life and her choices. Typing through tears, she’d feel ridiculous, painting herself as a victim, when she actually loved her life….Most of the time. She would re-read her words and set forth editing, putting a shiny, positive spin on each and every one. And then she’d delete it all, knowing she’d start again, someday soon.

Because writers write. That’s just what they do. “


January 31, 2019   2 Comments



Howdy reading readers.

It’s been a long, hot, fabulous summer. A summer of love, parties, and revelling in being 50.

It’s also been a summer of reading!

I’ve been writing to lots of you with mini-lists, but here, at long last, is The Big One.  I’ve tried to add a link so you can purchase the books directly from this site, thereby earning me about $.03/book (CAD!!) but between wordpress updates and Amazon affiliate codes, I cannot for the life of me figure it out.

So here is the official Summer 2018 MOAM Book Club. Do feel free to send me comments, questions and reccos. And don’t be share to spread the book club love.

Remember, friends,  reading is for life, not just for summer…..


I absolutely loved this magical tale set in 1930’s Montreal (with a side of NYC). Two babies left in an orphanage grow up together and fall in love. One is a musical genius, the other the consummate song’n dance gal. Together they dream up the most extravagant and fabulous circus act ever to be seen. Of course things don’t go quite as they imagined. Separated as teens, each is forced to use their talents to survive, until they can be reunited. Stunning writing. Gorgeous characters. Whimsical yet dark. Total page turner.


A pregnant teenager and her brothers are essentially raising themselves as their drunken father prepares for the upcoming hurricane. This is a visceral and beautifully written award-winning  book set in an impoverished rural town. Dog fighting, sick puppies, motherless children, and young people looking for love as devastation in the form of Hurricane Katrina looms made this a real graphic and incredible page turner.


After I finished Salvage the Bones I needed another fix of Ward’s writing. I found it in this, her next novel. Another award-winner, another story of familial desolation. This time ghosts haunt the present and the past in this poetic and stunning story of a drug-addicted woman striving to be a better parent, and her young biracial son trying to come to terms with who he is, where he comes from and where he is going. Southern Gothic greatness.

THE IMMORTALISTS by Chloe Benjamin

What would you do if you knew the exact date of your own death? In the late 1960’s in New York’s Lower East Side, four young siblings visit a psychic who claims to be able to predict just that. Hearing their prophecies, each sibling sets out on their own path. A tale of destiny and choices, paths dreamed of and routes taken, I was this novel to be intriguing, compelling and amazing.


Celestial and Roy, a young married couple finds their newly wedded bliss destroyed when Roy is arrested and convicted for a crime Celestial knows he couldn’t possibly have committed. Through letters and straight up page-turning prose, this story of about being Black in America, trying to hold to love when you’re forced apart, and trying to keep it together, separately. So timely. So brilliant.


I read several memoirs this past year, most of which fell flat. Ariel Levy’s, however, was searing, honest, funny and brutal. I’m lifting the quote straight from the back cover for this one. “When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.” Extraordinary.

THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah

This book had been repeatedly recommended to me. Set in WW2 France, it is the story of two sisters and how they survive the war. I never really had any interest in reading it, but it kept getting mentioned, and it kind of reminded me of All the Light We cannot See (which I read in one sitting). So I picked it up The Nightingale….and put it down only after devouring it in one long sleepless night. What a story! What a read! This in an author who really knows who to spin a tale.

THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah

See: above. Another Kristin Hannah novel, another total page turner… A Vietnam vet uproots his young family to go live off the grid in the wilds of Alaska. This is the story of the teenage daughter, coming of age and coming to terms with her parents’ unconventional and passionate choices. An extraordinary portrait of life, resilience and growing up in Alaska’s wildly beautiful and dangerous frontier. This author has written 30 novels. What to read of hers next??


In an extremely poor Indian village, two young girls form an unlikely friendship. Despite the hideous life they are born into, they find solace, light and love in the bond they share. One which threatens the power structure and the others in their lives. A statement about feminism, the caste system, and the power of love, this book is magnificent and horrifying as the girls find themselves living separate and brutal lives, always holding on to the belief that they will be reunited. Tragic, hopeful, gripping.

THE GUNNERS by Rebecca Kauffman

Six kids from very different families become best friends – complete with ghost stories, sleepovers, adventures and a clubhouse. They were destined, like so many childhood pals, to be bffs forever. And like many childhood bffs, when they hit high school, things changed. As they grew up, moved on, and skipped town, only Mikey stayed behind, living a lonely life as his vision fails. When one of the gang kills herself, the rest return to town and they reconnect and reminisce. Very Big Chill-esque….


I loved this book! A family’s life is ripped apart on one fateful night: the parents discover they’ve been cheated out of all their savings by their friend and business partner, and their son passes out in a snowbank with terrible consequences. Yes, in one night. After hitting the reader with all that, this is the story of what happens next.  Relationships are tested, as everyone tries to find ways to deal with the fallout. Some crumble and fail, some grow into something new. All are changed….

THERE THERE by Tommy Orange

There’s a big powwow happening in Oakland. For some, it’s a reunion. For others, an opportunity. As a diverse group of people share their interconnecting stories, one thing is certain: they will all converge at the powwow and shit will go down. This is a poetic, surprising, gripping and incredible read. Voices we don’t hear often enough come through loud and clear in this bright and beautiful book about indigenous urban identity. Powerful storytelling at its finest, this amazing book hits all the right notes from beginning to end.

LESS by Andrew Sean Greer

This Pulitzer-winning book centres on a failing novelist on the eve of his 50th birthday. In an effort to avoid the wedding of a past lover, he hits the road and travels around the world, trying to hide from himself. This is very much a character study with some great moments and even greater truths. It is very “writerly” and character-driven rather than plot-heavy. I absolutely loved this voice. So many lines in this book spoke to me…and stuck with me. And not just because I recently turned 50. Well, maybe a little….


Graham lives with his second wife, the zany and kinda crazy Audra, and their autistic son. When his first wife re-enters the picture, he is forced to re-evaluate the choices he’s made in life and love. I laughed out loud while reading this. The character of Audra jumps straight off the page. This book is far from perfect, but it’s tender, awkward, and touching. It’s not a total laugh-riot, but when it’s funny, it’s it’s reeeeeally funny.

THE DIRTY BOOK CLUB by Lisi Harrison

When MJ ups and leaves her amazing job in NYC for a perfect life in California, things don’t quite turn out as planned. She is soon mysteriously conscripted into the DBC: the dirty book club, where the scandalous and erotic fiction inspires four very different women to open up about what’s happening in their real lives. Set both forty years ago and today, the author reminds us that the power of friendship is never dated.  If you’re looking for a fun read about female relationships and empowerment, look no further than this hilarious romp.

CIRCE by Madeline Miller

I am a sucker for Greek mythology and absolutely loved the Song of Achilles. When I read that this same author had a new book, I had to read it. I liked the tale better than the retelling, but I felt compelled to continue reading it to remind myself of Circe’s story and because I loved being lost in that world. A must read for mythology lovers. And a might-read for everyone else.


A carpool mom stops to grab something from one of her neighbours – and finds her naked on the floor with a man who isn’t her husband. This is an easy, beach read about the goings-on in a neighbourhood and the affect the affair has on the families in the carpool. I quickly got sucked in to the daily drama and gossip.  Liane Moriarty-lite.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US  by Greer Hendricks

It’s hard to write about this suspenseful, twisty thriller without giving too much away, or sending the reader on a quest to forge it all out before the book’s end. Suffice to say this is a real page turner about a marriage gone very wring and the lengths a wronged party will go to fix it. I’ll leave it at that, or else it’s spoiler-alert central! Clever and yes, it’s being made into a flick…..


I wanted to love this book, I really did. It’s really well-written and depicts the early days of motherhood when your life is turned totally upside down. It’s the story of a young white women who bonds with her black nursing coach. It takes a pretty crazy turn and explores some sensitive and timely topics. Overall, however, something about it left me cold. That said, people adore this book, so I’m putting it on the list.








August 13, 2018   No Comments



It’s June, and therefore, for those with children of almost any school age, it’s Graduation Season.

Whether from pre-school to elementary, middle to high school, or university and beyond we have all been told, repeatedly, that it is a BIG DEAL. Growing up, wasn’t it just high school that was a big deal? Prom, corsage, limo? And university – duh – but pre?? Like the trophies and the medals – it’s graduation for everyone!

For my junior high “graduation” – our grade performed a musical version of the creation story.  I was one of 3 angels who wore flapper-style fringed dresses and sang a doo-wop song about being in Heaven. No joke. Another friend was the MC. And those were good parts. Some kids had to be “dancers” – in the dark, under black lights with white gloves doing jazz hands.

We’ve come a long way. In some ways.

When my eldest “graduated” from nursery it was kind of cute. Basically it was a photo-op situation where the parents (mostly moms) gushed about how fast time was flying. Some were saddened by it. I was relieved.

Then there was the big switch from pre-school/early years to Grade 1. For my kids, it wasn’t all that different. They went from an all-day Senior Kindergarten play-based classroom to an-day Grade One “big boy” class. Photos were, of course, adorable but the kids’ situation didn’t change all that much.

For the Elementary to Middle School jump, the kids (and parents) had an orientation so we could all understand how it would work. It felt scary. It felt serious.  Ultimately, for our family, it was still the same kids and the same school, but it was indeed different. Different teachers teaching different classes in different rooms. For a kid who didn’t like to sit in one place, it was a godsend. For one who thought a particular teacher hated him, it was a miracle. And the best part? They had lockers.

Lockers. Some of the girls had mini carpets and teeny tiny chandeliers in their lockers. The boys had magnets and shelves…for magnets. A kid with a locker was a Big Kid. Or so it seemed to the children in grade 6. To those finishing Grade 8, the once mighty locker became just another place to put their stuff.

At about halfway through the first term of Grade 8, talk of “Grad” began. I didn’t get it. At all. Graduation from Grade 8 – for me – was not “Grad”. “Real” graduation was from high school. Or university. Suddenly I found myself discussing Prom, breakfasts, pre-parties, post-parties. The kids were barely involved. There was a parent party, a parent poem, a photo collage made by – of course – the parents for their young graduates. Decor, menus, venues – the emails were flying. Even though I was on the planning committee, I felt like quite an imposter – I didn’t buy in. Not to any of it.

And now as the big day approaches, I cannot help but think about what it really means for my boy to be heading off to high school in September. He’s excited to be going to school with all of his friends even though, as I like to tell him (frequently), he probably hasn’t even met his friends yet! Up to now, it’s been all-childhood, all the time. I know his pals, their parents, his teachers.  Now, he’s entering his own phase. New friends. New experiences that have absolutely nothing to do with us. We won’t really know where he is, what he’s doing, or with whom. I’m well aware that it’s been my job to get him to this place, and I can only hope that he makes the right choices. I have total confidence in this young person but still – it terrifies me.

I am thrilled and scared. Happy and devastated. I know what I was up to in high school. I both laugh and cringe when I think about it. When I look at this boy, with whom I have such a special relationship, and I picture him leaving me out of his high school life – because that is exactly what he is supposed to do – I get teary. Not too many teenagers are coming home to discuss what’s going on with their mommies. Some do, sometimes, but not a lot. While my son and I are truly sympatico, I am not his best friend, nor is he mine. I don’t expect him to tell me everything, and as he enters these totally impactful high school years I’ll be happy if/when he tells me anything! This is his time. He’ll be making new memories and really carving out he who is. All exciting stuff, invigorating and, hopefully, not too traumatizing.

So much of who we become is etched upon us in high school. The music we’re into. The friends we find. The mistakes we make. High school is a place of freedom and excitement, but also a place where it can be so hard to figure out who we are. We get boxed in. Left out. Egged on. Some part of us never leaves high school.

And now that’s where he’s heading.

So as we enter his final week of middle school, with the parties and the ceremonies and the goodbyes, I know that it is “only grade 8”. And that in 4 short years when he (hopefully!) graduates from high school I will think back to this with fondness and smiles.

But for today I will wish my young graduate the fortitude to make the right decisions. To be his own person.  To stay kind, funny, compassionate and smart. There will be wounds in the teenage world of social warfare, and challenges he’ll think he can never possibly surpass. Life will be the best. And the worst. And we will be there for him whether he wants us or not.

And whether we want to or not, we will set him free and watch him fly…..




June 19, 2017   5 Comments


This is (almost) 50

On the near-eve of my 49th birthday, it is nearly impossible to escape The Big 5-0 looming ahead. I think I started telling people I was “almost 50” when I was 46. To which they’d often respond “but you don’t look 50”. That’s because I wasn’t. Then.

But with the year-long countdown about to begin I have been reflecting on turning almost-50. And not just the “do I want a party to celebrate” kind of reflecting. (The answer, for those wondering is: no, I do not.)

The other big question I imagine most of us hitting any kind of milestone birthday ask is: Am I where I thought I’d be?

Not exactly.

I was speaking to my mother, reminiscing about when she turned 50. I told her she seemed way ahead of where I’m at. To me it seemed like she was able to do pretty much whatever she wanted. Her children were older, she traveled a ton, her home was beautifully appointed and cared for meticulously, as was her cottage. For milestone birthdays she and her friends would make glamorous parties for each other – at home and away, involving costumes, themes, personalized T-shirts and surprise guests. My mom, at 50, was a free-wheeling, seemingly financially secure grown up. A real “adult” yet with a fun and youthful joie de vivre.

Me? Not so much.

I have 3 kids under 14. Our house lands somewhere on the scale between falling down and being torn up. I have several different freelance careers, and  I alternately love and/or loathe them all. My husband works his ass off day and night, coaches all 3 kids on and off the field/ice/pitch. Financial freedom is a dream we may never see realized. Leaving the house (sans children) – let alone the country – requires a shitload of organization and planning and is often not even possible. In fact, I still feel like a kid. A somewhat haggard and often exhausted kid.

I even have some of the same hang-ups from my youth including, sadly, “does my ass look fat?” And, ridiculously, “does he still like me?” You’d think I would move on from these teenage girl concerns. But you’d be wrong. On the flip side, and yes, there is a flip side burning bright,  I also have the knowledge and confidence that being older brings. Beauty absolutely fades and is a commodity I didn’t realize I used to have in spades. Now it’s more about looking good…. considering…. The insecurity within my own relationship? Now we make jokes about it – and blame my father. I can wear the same things day after day and have (almost) no qualms about walking out of the house “looking like that”. I’m not afraid to start up – and finish – a conversation. Or to speak my mind. Best of all I’m not overly concerned with judgements and opinions. Most of the time. I  know that I’m a damn good wife/mother/daughter/friend.   At this stage, the only one I tend to disappoint most is myself. Even my imposter-syndrome is only visible to those who know me very well. Fake it ’til you make it, Baby!

And yet, talking to my mom and telling her she really seemed to have it together, her one comment was that I was exactly where I should be. That I was the one who has it together with my 3 fabulous kids and a healthy marriage. She, on the other hand, had been divorced.

I couldn’t believe it. On paper, she had it all. And the only thing she could mention was that she was divorced? This from a woman who has been together with her husband for nearly 40 years (35 married) and still going strong. To me that’s an amazingly successful marriage. An accomplishment. But in her eyes, despite emerging from a broken marriage stronger, wiser and a mom of two, she still felt “less than” sixteen years later at age 50. If only we could see the positive things about ourselves through the eyes of others… I would argue that one of the best things that could’ve happened to my brother and I was being raised by a mother who was in a happy and healthy relationship.

50 and 23 in 1991.

So now, a month shy of 49, the question really is not “am I where I thought I would be” but, rather, “am I where I want to be?”

In so many ways, I think I am. I’m lucky enough to remember the dreams I had, acknowledge the ones I’ve lost, and be open to discovering new ones. Some dreams may stay dreams and that’s OK. Most of the time.  I am well aware that age is just a number, and all the other clichés that come with long days and short years. But with each birthday it becomes impossible not to reflect on the dreams that change along with the bodies – and the eyesight. New dreams emerge with the wrinkles, the readers, the grey hairs. The important thing is to be willing – and very able -  to deal with it all. Having an incredible cohort to join your journey (and a fabulous colorist) doesn’t hurt either.

Too much? Too personal? Too bad. I’m (almost) 50.





April 27, 2017   2 Comments



We have a new rule in our house – if you’re not ready to leave when it’s time to go, you take the bus. Unless you’re 7 years old. Then you just get to school late. But for the 10.5 and 12 year old? Hop on the bus, Gus.

So far, we haven’t had to put said plan into action for the older boys. But that all changed last week when my middle guy could. not. get. out. of. bed. Just couldn’t. So I left him behind. When he called me at 8:28AM and told me he was ready to take the bus, I tried my best to be casual – and find him another lift to school. But no, he was ready, he said. He knew the way, he said. He’d be taking the bus.

So we went thought the route, step-by-step.

  1. Right at the end of our street to the bus stop.
  2. Ask driver for the stop by name.
  3. Look out the window for the school building.
  4. Call from the office when you get to school.

Simple, right? And, just in case, I emailed the school asking them to let me know when he arrived.

About 45 minutes of radio silence later I called my husband to see if he’d been home and seen our kid. He hadn’t. I was getting a bit worried. He wasn’t. I called the school. They too weren’t worried and presumed B had called me on his own. I explained that he didn’t have a cel phone. Ummmm….I was getting a little clammy… They reassured me that he must be at school since he hadn’t been marked absent. I asked them for visual confirmation and to call me back.

I was now sweating.

My phone rang from an unknown number a few minutes later. Sure enough, it was my boy, sobbing hysterically.

“Mommy!!! I’m lost” he wailed.

“Lost?? Where are you? Whose phone is this?” I demanded.

“I’m at a Starbucks. At Yonge and Lawrence”.


“Mommy’s coming!”I yelled, turning into Wonder Woman in my mind and hopping into my invisible plane/visible SUV.

For those local, let me explain:he was supposed to go a handful of stops down Bathurst. But was calling me from Yonge and Lawrence. This was not on the route. Not even close.

I sped over to pick him up, heart racing nearly as fast as my wheels. I parked illegally and ran into Starbucks. There he was, drinking a glass of water. He told me the baristas had been so nice – offering him cake pops and hot chocolate. When I went over to thank them, however, they glared at me as though I was the worst parent on the planet. “Guess that experiment didn’t work?” I joked, lamely. They were having none of it. Just judgey McJudging me and my parenting. I grabbed my child and slunk away under their icy stares.

As we drove back to school, B explained that he did, indeed get on the bus. And when he asked the driver for his stop, the man told him he’d “never heard of it”. And it all went south – and east – from there. You see, we’d forgotten that there was more than one bus! And the driver didn’t think to mention that to this 10 year old either. So as the bus turned left unexpectedly (for him), my son figured they were on a detour. And when they passed a local hockey arena, he figured he wasn’t that far off. But as it continued to chug along (down Chaplin, locals), he knew something was very, very wrong.

The bus pulled into the final stop: Davisville subway station. B piled off with the rest of the passengers. Most headed into the depths of the subway. Luckily, B did not. He spotted the Yonge Street sign and started started walking. And walking. And walking. Walking north, on the longest street in the world.

Rather than ask a stranger to use their phone (“they all looked like robbers”), he figured he’d find a safe place. Like a bank. And when he couldn’t find our bank, he went for second best: Starbucks. Not noticing the handful of Starbucks on the opposite side of the street, my boy walked from 2.1km. From Yonge and Davisville to Yonge and Craighurst. That’s the one across from Sporting Life, friends. A long, long walk away.

Every time I retell the story I get a little sweaty, share a bit of nervous laughter. But mostly I am grateful for what we all learned:

  1. No, he didn’t need a cel phone (or cash) because he figured it out.
  2. He’ll never be late again.
  3. He was way more resilient and street smart than we had pegged him.
  4. My guy really found himself by getting lost….



April 4, 2016   6 Comments


TIFF 2014 – Live from the Green Room

More like….Previously Recorded in the Green Room…
But better late than never, right? RIGHT?



First up: The Judge.

Opening night movie. Starring the awesomely talented Robert Downey Jr. Guess what? Robert Downey Jr. was fabulous. Because he always is. Because he’s Robert Downey Jr. And he’s kind of perfect. Ladies of a certain age (OK, mine) go nuts for this guy. And who wouldn’t?!?

Who doesn't love this face?! Even beside a disused lightswitch

Who doesn’t love this face?! Disused lightswitch photobomb be damned!

The movie? Not as nuts for that…There were some moments, to be sure, but it tried to be too many things to too many folks. I could’ve done without the courtroom action. Because taken as a family drama, The Judge was tender and touching and all those good things. But, alas, it’s billed as a courtroom drama. And while the performances were terrific the movie itself, sadly, was not.

Crazy cute couple.

Crazy cute couple.

Kristin Bell was there, supporting her man Dax Shepard. He was friendly, she was funny, they’re fantastic.

Vera Farmiga = Ageless!

Vera Farmiga = Ageless!

Friday night: Boychoir.

Prepubescent boys. Singing in a choir. Ree ree ree!!!

Choirleader Dustin Hoffman

Choirleader Dustin Hoffman

Some of you may know that I find the voices of soprano children singers to be amongst the world’s creepiest things. There’s something very Nazi-ish for me. Or Exorcist-y. The thought of those high voices singing in Latin or German or even in English…In a church……yikes!! However, Boychoir was about an 11-yr old boy, and I’m the mom of an 11-year-old boy, so….


Leo takes tiff!

What a thrill!

Movie-wise, the idea that these young singers are given the gift of a stunning classical voice that one day disappears is an intriguing one. Too bad that wasn’t the main crux of the plot. We’ve seen this story before. Duelling voices. Raw talent vs polished. Nothing groundbreaking. But the voices!!! Stunning! Forget about the movie, it’s the extraordinary voices. Astonishing. Mesmerizing. Not even remotely creepy.

(But hearing them without seeing their faces? Still gives me the wrong kind of chills.)

My boy and Artie...I mean Kevin McHale

My boy and Artie…I mean Kevin McHale

My mother, meanwhile, was thrilled too. Not just because her grandson was with her. But because of this:

Sweet Home Alabama Super-fan

Sweet Home Alabama Super-fan

Who knew?

Next up was Ruth & Alex, starring Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman. We gave it a miss. But not before THIS happened:

leo morgan

I had no clue that my kid was such a colossal Morgan Freeman fan. Oh, but he is! He spotted MF before anyone else. Pointed him out. Knew his flicks. And proceeded to chat it up with his new-found friend. Big time. While Mr Freeman was somewhat glacial to the gen pop in the green room, with my kid he was a total super star!

That really was the peak of my short-lived TIFF time. We bailed on Saturday night, returning for Sunday night’s World Premiere, This is Where I leave you.

Deep breath….

I was disappointed. People loved it, I know, I know. Words were exchanged, on Facebook and off. In the streets and on the phone. It’s hard to adapt a beloved book from page to screen. And kudos to Jonathan Tropper for trying his best with his own brilliant book. Yeah, there were laughs. And the performances were terrific, but overall it kinda left me cold. Seeing it at TIFF, cast in tow, tends to lower the bar. I held this one up to high high standards so was bound to be disappointed. Cute. Not great.

BUT the ladies!!! Oh, the ladies in this flick. Tina Fey? Trying to figure out how to close a bag of candies into her tiny clutch made me love her even more.

She's smart. She's funny. She looked great. AND she eats. LOVE!

She’s smart. She’s funny. She looked great. AND she eats. LOVE!

Connie Britton? Wow wow and wow! She is spec-tac-u-lar. And not just because I love Nashville (it’s true! I do!). She was completely charming. And look at her! She’s 47. Forty-f&cking-seven!!!!


Girl crush alert!

And then there’s Jane Fonda. A dame who works it. Works it well. She looked unreal. Ummmm… She probably is but it doesn’t matter because she totally pulls it off and looks gorgeous. When she walked in, she gave my mother the most magnificent bear hug! And then proceeded to walk right past her. So strange, yet so amusing…

b.1937 WTF???

b.1937 WTF???

The last film of the night was The Equalizer. Yeah – THAT Equalizer! I was a huge fan of the ’80’s TV series. I may have been too tired to stick around for the flick version but I was awake enough to check him out:

Hi Denzel!

Hi Denzel!

Aaaaad, this is where I leave you (I couldn’t resist). Too many kids + too many sports + Back-to-school = logistical nightmare. So this year’s TIFF green room goss is short. But hopefully sweet.

Happy tiff to all.
All but me.
Go team go!


September 9, 2014   No Comments