Why This Is The BEST Book About Love And Loss We’ve Read In AGES

Here's a preview of the stunning, heartbreaking story that will blow you away.

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It’s been said that “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture,” but you could say the same thing when it comes to writing about love.

Writing about love isn’t easy. It might look easy, thanks to the seemingly infinite number of paperback romances out there, but finding a book that talks about love in a real way, in a relatable, honest, “Oh wow, I know exactly what that feels like” way… it’s rarer than you think.


But they do exist.

I bring that up because I’ve recently read the best book about love, heartbreak, loss, and finding love again that I’ve read in a really long time.

It’s The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman and, if you’re looking for a summer read that you will legit fall in love with and loan to all of your friends this is it.

The reason why you need to read The Garden of Small Beginnings is because Abbi Waxman knows how to write about love. She does. She just gets it.


The premise of the book reads like the scenario for your new rom-com with lots of heart, but the book itself transcends every expectation you have because of its confident, hilarious, and especially perceptive voice.

Waxman introduces us to Lili Girvan, a widow struggling to start her life again as a single mom of two very precocious girls. She truly loved her husband Dan, but everyone in her life — including Dan’s family — is trying to pull her out of her shell and convince her that she can find love again.

But she’s not buying it. And her skepticism is put to the test thanks to a new job assignment. Lili is a textbook illustrator, so, after being selected to illustrate a series of vegetable guides, she has to spend every Saturday morning at a gardening class for research purposes. The class is taught by Edward, her unflappable instructor whose lessons end up teaching her a lot about plants, real life, and, yes, love.

Again, the reason why you need to seek out The Garden of Small Beginnings is because of Lili’s voice. The book is told from her perspective and the way she tells her own story… it will remind you of listening to your own best friend.


She sounds real. She sounds human and flawed and relatable and wonderful. And her story has so much impact because of it.

I can keep talking about how well Abbi Waxman writes about love — which, yes, might be akin to dancing about architecture — or I can show you.

Below you’ll find one of my favorite excerpts from The Garden of Small Beginnings. (You really should seek out this book.) It’s Lili talking about how people want her to move on following her husband’s death. She talks about their relationship, what she misses about him, and what it’s like to lose a spouse in the blink of an eye.

It’s heartbreaking and lovely and… real. This isn’t someone describing what they want love (or loss) to be. This is someone describing what love actually is. And that’s a rare and beautiful thing to share with the world.


Here’s the excerpt…

• • • • •

People had started telling me to move on after about two years, especially my mom and, strangely, Dan’s parents.

My mother-in-law had been quite specific.

“Sweetheart, we all miss Dan, but if you’d been the one who died, we would be telling him to move on and remarry, and if Rachel was in your position, you’d be telling her the same.”

I shook my head, hard. “I wouldn’t. I would respect her need to grieve at her own pace.”

She smiled at me. I was lucky. I had a great mother-in-law, who was way more nurturing than my own mother.

“You’re never going to stop grieving, Lili, none of us are. We will miss him every day, in a myriad of different ways, but that doesn’t mean it’s not OK to laugh or meet new people. The kids need a father, and you deserve to not be doing this alone. If Dan were around, he would want you to be happy.”


This was something people said all the time, and it really pissed me off. Dan would want you to date, they would say. Bullshit. I knew this because he and I had discussed it. We’d discussed everything, that’s why I missed him. If he had been lame, it wouldn’t be so fucking painful.

“If I die,” he had said, lying in bed years before we had kids, “I want you to do a complete Victorian mourning, got it?” We had “assumed the position,” the one where he lay on his back and I curled around him like a vine, my head resting on his shoulder. It was the most comfortable, secure place in the world.

I grinned into his neck. “You mean like seven years in black, three in purple, three in purple with a bit of white, that kind of thing?”

I could hear him smile. “I think you’re wrong about the purple, but yeah, veils and everything.”


“Weeping and rending of garments?”

“I think the rending of garments is Judaism, but sure, mix it up. Pull from as many sources as you want.” He stroked my back, under the sheet.

“I could lament.”

“Loudly, I trust.”

“And piteously. I will wander sightless.”

He squeezed my waist and turned his head, kissing my hair. “Now you’re getting crazy. I just want the proper respect.”

“You got it, babe.”

And, admittedly, I had once said to him, after we had kids, that if I died, he should feel free to go Mormon and remarry several women at once, but mostly I was saying it because I was annoyed he hadn’t emptied the dishwasher.

He’d said he would remarry the entire October issue of Playboy, and I said that was a plan, because I knew those nineteen-year-old hotties would go nuts for a middle-aged guy with ten extra pounds. Then he’d thrown a pair of (dirty) boxer shorts at me. One has these conversations lightly, or even angrily, and then they’re set in stone.


And it’s not as if you can prepare for sudden death. That would be the kicker of that whole sudden part. You think you can imagine it, but it’s like when you’re about to have your first baby — people tell you what it’s like, you’ve seen other people do it. How hard can it be?

And then it happens, and the first three months are like Vietnam without the drugs. Grief is like that, but really an enormous amount worse. Vietnam without drugs, weapons, or the outer layers of your skin.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Every breath I took was an insult, every smile I automatically returned in the drugstore was an affront, every morning I woke up alone was a vicious punch in the throat.

I missed listening to him brush his teeth, the pause before he spat. I missed that when he came out of the shower, he always had an idea he wanted to tell me. I missed hearing him in the other room talking to the baby, or to the dog. I missed the sound of his key in the door. I missed the sight of him sleeping like a log when I climbed back into bed after going to the baby, the bastard. I missed the smell of his neck.


I even missed the irritating things he did, like the fact that he always left his wet towel on the end of the bed. If I close my eyes right now I can see him throwing it down and turning slowly around in circles, looking for the boxer shorts he’d left lying on the floor.

So I closed my eyes and fell asleep watching him turn.

• • • • •

Abbi Waxman’s “The Garden of Small Beginnings” is on sale now.

Created in partnership with Berkley Publishing Group.