Friday, June 13, 2014

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall


Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart 
by Carol Wall
Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2014
304 pages
nonfiction, memoir
source: borrowed from the library

Summary (from goodreads):

Carol Wall, a white woman living in a lily-white neighborhood in Middle America, was at a crossroads in her life. Her children were grown; she had successfully overcome illness; her beloved parents were getting older. One day she notices a dark-skinned African man tending her neighbor’s yard. His name is Giles Owita. He bags groceries at the supermarket. He comes from Kenya. And he’s very good at gardening.
  Before long Giles is transforming not only Carol’s yard, but her life. Though they are seemingly quite different, a caring bond grows between them. But they both hold long-buried secrets that, when revealed, will cement their friendship forever.

Quick thoughts:

I hadn't heard about this book before reading BermudaOnion's review, but Kathy made it sound like exactly the kind of memoir I tend to enjoy. My decision was made when I realized it was also an Amy Einhorn book.

From the title, you might think this is a book about gardening, but in reality gardening only serves as a backdrop for the blooming friendship between Carol Wall and Giles Owita. Wall's story is open, honest, and touching. It also provides the opportunity to pause, reflect, and possibly re-evaluate the garden of your own life.

Favorite quotes:
I had come to a gradual acceptance that I was "that lady" - the one who drove slower than all the impatient younger folks on the highway, the one who younger man found invisible, and who reminded younger women of their mothers. But instead of resenting that shift, I decided to embrace it. In our youth- and health-obsessed culture, it was either win or lose, and I decided not to play that game at all. The contest was rigged anyway -- because everyone, sooner or later, was going to age out of the running. So I decided to just get over myself. The world would not end if I had a bad hair day or didn't monitor every bite of food that went into my mouth.  (page 204) 
"Oh, many, many people speak too soon," Giles said. "And those who know a little less speak even sooner..."   (page 242) 
In every moment there exists a lifetime. Every day brings something good!  (page 287)
My rating:

28 comments:

  1. Oh, I do like that first quote! :)

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    1. Audrey - That one pretty much stopped me dead in my tracks ;-)

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  2. Okay, now I have to go look up Amy Einhorn. So much to this reading stuff.

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    1. Midlife Roadtripper - It was Amy Einhorn that brought us The Help... she certainly has a knack for choosing the right books!

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  3. Well you're right, you can't go wrong with Einhorn. She just nails it over and over again. This sounds like such a nice book, one I know I would completely relate with. There are days when I look in the mirror and am shocked at the girl (middle aged woman?) looking back at me! I still feel like a teenager inside! I've got to somehow get through this transition with grace.

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    1. Sandy - I should just automatically add every title her imprint publishes to my wish list... they all seem to be winners!

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  4. I'm glad you enjoyed this book. I love the quotes you shared.

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    1. Pat - I seem to be on a nonfiction reading kick lately. It's nice for a change.

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  5. I loved this book so I'm glad I influenced you to read it!

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    1. Kath - I'm so glad I read your post... this was a very good book!

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  6. Sounds wonderful. I'd like to clip that first quote and hang it on the wall as a reminder! But first, I'll see if my library has it. Thanks so much for the review.

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    1. DS!! It's so good to see you. Hope all is well. That first quote was the best part of the book for me.

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  7. I started reading this a few months ago, but I didn't get on with it. There was something about the author's tone that completely rubbed me the wrong way. I do love the quotes, you've featured, though.

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    1. Anbolyn - I can definitely see how she might rub some people the wrong way, but there were quite a few very quotable passages.

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  8. I can't believe I haven't read this yet. ARGHHHHH

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    1. Beth F - I think you might like this one.

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    1. Diane - It's a quick read with a good message.

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  10. I am currently reading this book and enjoying the characters who seem to so truthfully represent struggles we all deal with. Looking forward to finishing the last third of the book.

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    1. auntp - The truthfulness of this memoir was one of the most appealing aspects, I think. So very real...

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  11. You and Kathy are sealing the deal for me! Must read.

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  12. I loved the title of this book when you posted about it awhile ago. The quotes sound great and this sounds like a fun read. I will definitely have to look for it!

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    1. Katherine P - Guess I've been on a bit of a nonfiction streak... this was a very enjoyable memoir.

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  13. Do you think this is more one for me or my gardening husband? Or would we both like it?

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    1. Thomas - I'd feel more comfortable recommending this memoir to you. Gardening is the backbone of the story, yet it plays a relatively minor role.

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  14. I love your favorite quotes. Especially the one about our youth obsessed culture. I've opted out of that "game" too and it is very freeing :)

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    1. Terri - That quote really spoke to me... so freeing to "opt out"!

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