You may have noticed that for a couple of months there I was a little overwhelmed and didn’t post as much as I had been. So I’m catching up a little in terms of the reviews I’ve promised to people. As homeschool starts up again, I thought it was an appropriate time to review The Homeschool Experiment by Charity Hawkins. What’s that, you ask? A fictional book about homeschool?
In fact, yes. And it’s a wonderful read. Part chick-lit, part manual on homeschooling, part sage mothering advice, this book is a gem that I’ll probably read again. When it comes to novels, I want to be awed by the way the author puts words together, and I was not disappointed. But perhaps the most disarming thing about this book is the main character, Julianne Miller, and her very real life. Any mother who’s ever compared herself to others (and what mother hasn’t?) will relate to this down-to-earth character.
The story follows her journey through a year of homeschooling, from her wide-eyed impressions of a homeschooling convention, trying to choose curriculum for a first-grader through to the last, somewhat victorious day of the school year.
At the beginning of the story, Julianne is clearly overwhelmed. She has good plans and intentions, even seeks the advice of others, but things quickly spin out of control. By the end of the story, she has found balance and is more sure of the reasons she wants to homeschool, although she’s still unsure about exactly what that will look like until the end of school or even whether or not she thinks their family is complete.
There was so much to relate to in this book!
Why You Should Read It:
If you’re a homeschooling mom, you’ll find so much comfort and wise advice from Julianne, but also from the network of friends who advise and help her through this year of homeschooling. You’ll see yourself on the pages, and you’ll LAUGH. A lot. Like me, you might even shed a tear or two. (But mostly you’ll laugh.)
If you’re not a homeschooling mom, but you’ve ever wondered what on earth is up with those strange folks who do and their wild “unsocialized” children, you’ll find a rare window into what the daily realities of homeschooling really are: the self-doubt, the frustrations, the rewards.
A lot of what Hawkins writes about applies not just to homeschool moms, but to any mom. What mother hasn’t felt like this?
I tried to make Daniel and Joy do math at the kitchen table, but they kept distracting each other, and I kept sending them to Time Out.
This is where I should have given up, but I didn’t. I kept heedlessly plowing full-steam ahead, ignoring any warnings of impending doom, like a smaller and crankier version of the Titanic.
But there’s also the profound and beautiful as Julianne stumbles her way to a better understanding of what homeschooling should look like for her family:
Homeschooling is a lot like my garden. It’s messy. My method seems haphazard. I am learning as I go. It rarely turns out exactly like I planned and the results are unpredictable. At some point along the way, I feel like a failure. But somehow the roots go down deep; the tender plants grow strong. And every single spring, every single summer, I am awed by the harvest God brings.
The author calls the book a novel, but admits that the story is biographical.
About the Author:
Charity Hawkins is a pen name, because the real author wrote candidly about her family’s life and wants to protect their privacy, because she doesn’t want to be famous, and because no one can pronounce or spell her real name. She does actually exist, however, and lives with her husband and three actual children in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They are in their fourth year of homeschooling.