Thursday, December 4, 2014

Book Review: "Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most by Amy Julia Becker

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book from the folks at Propeller Consulting, LLC, in exchange for an honest and thorough review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Now that my girls are talking and forming sentences, they are also starting to ask questions about life and the world around them.  From trying to figure out their own feelings, to wondering why things are the way they, it is both interesting and scary to watch them, as they develop and grow.

But, how do you answer questions your child poses?  Do you tell them the truth, or do you try to change the subject to something else when their topics are about illness, death or suffering? Thanks to a book written by a fellow mom, who also lives in CT, I am now better prepared when unexpected questions about faith and life are presented to me.  "Small Talk: Learning from My Children About What Matters Most," the author, Amy Julia Becker, shares questions and day-to-day conversations she has had with her own children through the years.  She shares how she answered their questions, as well as how these questions made her take a deeper look at how she was raising her children and how faith played a role in her responses to them and their upbringing.

About the book:

"Every day, one of Amy Julie Becker’s children says something that prompts her to think about life in a new way. “Mom, does Santa love me?” William asks, after his mother explains the meaning of Christmas…In a chat with her dad about the children who died in the Sandy Hook shootings, Penny asks, “Did they go to heaven?” …”You was a jerk, Mommy?” asks Marilee one morning in the car.

These conversations deepen Amy Julia’s relationships with her children, but they also refine her understanding of what she believes and what God is doing in her own life.

In Small Talk, Amy Julia draws from the wisdom and curiosity of those young voices to reflect on beauty and kindness, tragedy and disability, prayer and miracles. As she moves through the basic questions her kids posed when they were very young to the more intellectual questions of later childhood, she invites us to learn from our own day-to-day conversations with the children in our lives.

This eloquent parenting memoir is about the big questions little hearts ask, the thoughts their words provoke, and the laughter and soul-searching their honesty brings—to adult and child alike."

As I read through this book, which I found hard to put down, I couldn't get over the open ended questions that Amy's children have asked of her.  I found myself stopping to think about the responses I would give if my girls asked these similar questions.  Would I take from Amy's responses and elaborate, or would I shy away from these really deep and thought provoking questions?  I also thought about how I may answer questions differently if they are asked time and again, based on my girls' age.  Seeing that children have excellent memories and remember everything, would they question my knowledge base if I answer differently each time?

Parenting really is a hard job and one that will test you on all levels.  But, thanks to parenting memoirs like "Small Talk," I can see how important keeping lines of communication open with your children, no matter their age, so that they will always feel comfortable coming to you and asking their questions -- even if they seem silly or receptive.  While my girls are still young and many of their questions are straightforward, I know that the time will come when they will get more personal.  They will ask about death and dying and maybe even about cancer.  Will I tell them that I battled cancer before I had them?  Will this make them scared that I may get sick again or even die young?  These questions always run through my head when we pass by someone who is battling cancer and they girls wonder why they look sick or have no hair.  I know that when the time comes and we do have the cancer talk that I will share honestly and opening, just like Amy has with her children.  Not only will they get answers to their questions, but these talks will also help me grow as a person and make me a better parent.  

Each day I find myself learning new things through my girls' eyes and by the questions they ask. And, just knowing that my girls' mind are pure and innocent and that they look to my husband and I for guidance and wisdom, we need to make sure that our small talks are cherished, as one day they will get to the age that they think they know everything.  I hope that when this time comes, they will remember our small talks and know that we, along with God, are here to help guide them through life, while also letting them spread their wings and learning and growing on their own.  Small talks really are the basis for a strong and lasting relationship between a parent and child, and this can be seen as your read through this wonderful and honest book by Amy Julia Becker.  This is one author I was not familiar with until I picked up her book "Small Talk," but, one I will be keeping an eye out for new releases going forward.

If you have found yourself struggling to answer questions your child asks, this is definitely one book you will want to pick up and read.  It offers up wonderful quotes at the beginning of each chapter that you will find yourself stopping to think about, and wanting to make note of for future reference. I wholeheartedly recommending this parenting memoir and praise Amy for helping parents like myself have a better direction when it comes to these small talks with our children.

About the Author:

Amy Julia Becker writes about faith, family, and disability for, the New York Times Motherlode blog,, The Huffington Post parents page, Christianity Today, The Christian century, and numerous other publications. Her first book, A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny, was named one of the Top Ten Religion Books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly. Amy Julia lives in western Connecticut with her husband and three children.

Amy’s Website:

Follow her on Twitter here!

Check out her Facebook page here!

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book from the folks at Propeller Consulting, LLC, in exchange for an honest and thorough review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.


  1. This book sounds really great for some soon to be new moms that I know and that is a great price.
    heather [email protected]

  2. I could really use this in all of my children's relationships. Each one is so different. I have a 5 year old that is in a difficult stage at the moment.