A review by my friend April at The Steadfast Reader piqued my interest in reading Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. Based on the topic and its angle, I thought I might have a different response to the book.
The author admits she has a Type A personality, but an incredibly emotional personality also comes through in her writing. In the chapter about using driving time to connect with her kids (and any friends who carpool with them) versus zoning out with her own thoughts, she uses the word “tragedy” more than once: “Not many tragedies are preventable – but this one is.” There’s also four pages in which she curses “Time” in one of those ever-popular “open letters.” I just can’t stomach so much hyperbole at once, especially when it is used in place of research. It makes me feel manipulated. Plus, I don’t reminisce over my daughter’s earlier stages in quite the way Stafford does. Those stages were wonderful in their own way, but I’m equally excited about what the future holds. So, to say I couldn’t connect with the author is probably an understatement.
I’m looking for a sense of balance in the parenting books I read, and I didn’t get that at all with this one. It had an either/or, do this instead of that tone to it. The content focused very little on technology (which was my main interest in the book) and instead focused on distractions in general. She basically made the same points over and over again, in slightly different settings, over the course of 240 pages.
Many of those points were definitely admirable and worth further consideration. Overall, the delivery didn’t grab me. However, judging from the number of positive ratings on Goodreads, there are a lot of people who feel differently. I can’t help but feel happy about people making a deeper connections with their families, and if this book helps them with that, that’s a great thing.
People who share Stafford’s writing style, personality type, and family dynamic will thoroughly enjoy this book. I recommend visiting the Hands Free Mama blog before deciding whether or not this book is for you.
Have you ever read a book knowing ahead of time that a friend didn’t like it? Did you have a different response, or did you end up wishing you’d trusted your friend in the first place?