How to Party with an Infant
Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, Humor
Number of Pages (Hardback): 240 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date Published: August 9th 0f 2016
Synopsis (via GoodReads page here):
The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Descendants—a hilarious and charming story about a quirky single mom in San Francisco who tiptoes through the minefields of the “Mommy Wars” and manages to find friendship and love.
When Mele Bart told her boyfriend Bobby she was pregnant with his child, he stunned her with an announcement of his own: he was engaged to someone else.
Fast forward two years, Mele’s daughter is a toddler, and Bobby and his fiancée want Ellie to be the flower girl at their wedding. Mele, who also has agreed to attend the nuptials, knows she can’t continue obsessing about Bobby and his cheese making, Napa-residing, fiancée. She needs something to do. So she answers a questionnaire provided by the San Francisco Mommy Club in elaborate and shocking detail and decides to enter their cookbook writing contest. Even though she joined the group out of desperation, Mele has found her people: Annie, Barrett, Georgia, and Henry (a stay-at-home dad). As the wedding date approaches, Mele uses her friends’ stories to inspire recipes and find comfort, both.
How to Party with an Infant is a hilarious and poignant novel from Kaui Hart Hemmings, who has an uncanny ability to make disastrous romances and tragic circumstances not only relatable and funny, but unforgettable.
Rate: 4 of 5
I’m probably not the best person to review this work in all my singlehood. Hahaha. I really did enjoy this book because I loved the witty and humorous interjections. For me, the humor was really subtle. And there’s this one quote from the book that I feel summarizes my whole outlook on it.
“Like for real it will make you cry. Cry or laugh your ass off.”
And it did. There were some parts that would just make you ache with the main character, Mele. However, as much as this is true, I noticed that there was poor character development in it. And I do understand that each character’s life into parenting and their experiences with it was the main focus–to find out their differences and what they have in common. But the viewpoint changes every once in a while in a phase where the reader is not yet fully engaged to the characters. In some sense, maybe, there are lost dimensions to the book because of it. The effect on the reader may have been a little diminished. The sorta, non-linear way of storytelling was absolutely delightful, I must say.
I enjoyed this book though I may not be the type of audience this was targeted to. But this is hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time and it’s wonderful.
I’ve actually decided that every time I read a book, I’ll try my best to answer discussion questions regarding it so that I would feel like I maximized what I am taking from literature (I guess? haha) So, here below are some discussion questions I found for this book. Beware of spoilers. I mean, it is the discussion…So. Yeah.
Why does Mele decide to enter the cookbook competition in the first place? What does she mean when she says, “It’s comforting to be able to explain yourself, or to be asked anything at all”? In what ways do the questionnaire and the cookbook become Mele’s diary? How do you think Mele would feel actually to win the competition? Is this even her goal?
Mele decided to enter the competition because I knew she wanted to do something. She might have felt like her whole world has been already revolving a tyke–and there’s nothing wrong with that–but her individuality may have been diminished. The questionnaire and the cookbook portions of the book was probably my favorite part mainly because it allowed the reader access to the direct thoughts of Mele. If in an alternate ending where she won the competition, of course, she would be ecstatic and would be more encouraged to write. But, I don’t think that’s her goal–it’s merely a catalyst to start the things that are truly her goals in life.
What do you think about the unconventional format of the novel, from Mele’s revealing first-person responses to the questionnaire and her friends’ stories to the Greek-chorus style emails from the SFMC listserv interjected throughout? How does this creative structure contribute to your understanding of the plot and characters of the novel?
I personally thought it was brilliant! It gave the book a new tone–and a better one at that. I think if there were no such thing as that kind of format, it would be a generic book about parenthood. The alternating style of the voices of the characters was a really nice way of actually getting to know them and relating to them. However, in my opinion, the book ended oh so abruptly. I feel like I was just getting to the top layers of the characters yet bam! it was already over.
The core of the novel is Mele—the careful observer and frustrated writer—listening to the wide-ranging stories of her friends and reimagining their varied experiences as recipes. Of all the stories she hears, whose did you relate to the most and why? Which character would you like to hear more stories from? (And which meal would you most like to eat?)
This is a hard question…I’m not a parent. HAHAHAHA. So, I’m not really sure what character I identify with…But, I definitely would want to hear more stories from Annie. She’s such a bad-ass person outside being a mom. And she has all these concealed structure in her personality that, I think, would be so interesting to know. On the other hand, if I was to eat one of their experience-turned-into-a-meal stuff, it would be Henry. I like how it is so simple yet is so meaningful.
Do I recommend it? Oh, absolutely. 🙂
*Cover image and Synopsis via GoodReads