Usually we focus on children’s books here, but it’s summer now and time for mom to get in a little fun reading! A confession: When I get to read for fun I pretty much always choose a mystery. Every so often I’ll throw in a biography or something like that, but 98% of the time I’ve got a paperback mystery with me. A book like The Homeschool Experiment isn’t normally what I’d choose, but I got a copy (signed by the author herself!) at my local convention in May and thought it would be an okay read. A few days ago I picked it up off the shelf, started reading, and kept reading until I finished it that same night. It’s that good!
This book is real. For me, it was really real because I live in the Tulsa area and have been to the places the characters visit. Even if you’re homeschooling in Timbuktu, though, you are going to see yourself in The Homeschool Experiment. The main character, Julianne, is struggling to survive her son’s first grade year as she also tries to teach her younger daughter and care for her toddler son. The book starts in May as Julianne attends the homeschool convention and follows her troubles and triumphs throughout the year. You will nod as she faces so many of the stereotypical situations we’ve all experienced—questions from family, struggles with children, doubts from within. You’ll laugh—often. Out of sheer vanity I don’t want to tell you which parts of this book were just like my life, but Hawkins tells the stories with such humor that you’ll find yourself literally laughing out loud. You may even find yourself tearing up a bit as Julianne ponders and prays over her homeschooling days. (And she doesn’t find a single body or solve any crimes, either, so this is automatically much more realistic than 98% of what I usually read!)
This book is full of great advice. While Julianne is relatively new to the homeschool experience, she has friends who have been doing this for a while and offer great advice. What’s great is that they don’t automatically tell her to buy something new or offer some super-complicated ideas. Instead, they offer her practical solutions to help her days flow more smoothly. I like that Hawkins has woven these discussions into the story because even though I don’t think there was anything I hadn’t heard of before, it was good to hear those ideas again and see how Julianne applied them in her own life. It made me think of sitting back and listening to other homeschool moms talk at the park!
This book is encouraging. Yes, Julianne struggles, as we all do. Her kids argue, her family eats too much fast food, and her house is messy. Sound familiar? (Please don’t tell me if this is completely foreign to you!) She doesn’t just sit and complain, though; she goes out and seeks solutions and makes changes. There are many scriptures and hymns throughout the book and you witness friends praying for each other and encouraging each other as they go about their daily lives. When I finished the book I felt like I had just had a good, long conversation with a friend!
This book has extras! At the back of the book is a study guide in case you want to have a book group with friends. (Probably homeschool moms are going to enjoy this book the most, but it might be an interesting glimpse into a different world for those who don’t homeschool!) Also included is information about the different homeschooling resources Julianne and her friends discuss in the story, so you may pick up some useful information while you’re being entertained. If you visit thehomeschoolexperiment.com you can read more posts by Charity Hawkins and download the first three chapters!
Let’s face it: If you’re homeschooling, you’re living a lifestyle that only a tiny fraction of society ever experiences and that very few people really understand. I loved this story because it’s the first fiction book I’ve ever read that has a main character that is like me—but not in a crazy-lady-down-the-street kind of way. Take a day or two off from chores and planning and give The Homeschool Experiment a try. It’s one of the few experiments I can almost guarantee will give you great results!