In this engaging journey of self-discovery, Patrice Karst, a single mother, shares her practical yet witty advice with single moms everywhere. She covers a wide range of topics that concern the modern woman struggling without a mate, showing how it's possible not only to survive but to triumph. The book features dozens of quick "survival checklists" on topics such as dealing with exhaustion and reasons to be happy about being a single mom. Karst's "Ten Commandments for Single Mothers" begins with "Thou shalt not be afraid to ask for help from anyone at any time (because the offers sure as hell won't come in by themselves)." The Single Mother's Survival Guide also includes wisdom and inspiration for the single mother, touching on goals and dreams, affirmations, and gratitude.
Single moms haven't had many books to turn to in times of distress. Most parenting guides either moralize to her or ignore her altogether. Patrice Karst has righted that wrong with The Single Mother's Survival Guide. The book is obviously designed to console--and fast--the poor mom who has once again dragged the baby into the bathroom with her because she literally cannot get a moment alone. Flip open to any page and you'll find earthy bits of inspiration, with a consistently (but not sickeningly) positive slant on childcare, dating, and other facts of single-mom life. Karst never loses her tenacious hold on the realities of parenting: on her list of "Reasons to Be Happy About Being a Single Mom," the first one is "because it's happening." It's a treat to read a book so completely on the side of the mom. Karst rants against busybodies and smug marrieds: "The next person who says to you, 'Well, when you learn to be perfectly content and happy with yourself and aren't looking for a relationship--then you'll find one,' slap them for me, will ya?" So the advice isn't exactly revolutionary: love the kids, take a bath, ask for help. Still, this volume makes a fine companion piece (just ignore the workbook at the back) to the bible of single-parenting, Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year. --Claire Dederer