Sunday 10 July 2011

Reader Feedback on The Meaning Of Children

The Meaning Of Children now available on Kindle!

[An updated version of this posting is available here...]

Just had to share some of the incredibly moving feedback I've been getting from readers of my new book, The Meaning Of Children (available at fine bookstores, through Exile Editions, on, and

  1. I found your writing haunting and powerfully emotive, drawing on the subtleties of childhood, youth and parenthood that undermine us in strange and unexpected ways. Your writing is polished and mature, something I am always in awe of and why I got into publishing to begin with.~An agent at a prominent Toronto literary agency
  1. I adore your knack for leaving questions hanging in the reader's mind…and then there are those thought provoking zingers tucked neatly inside the last thought, description or action of your narrators. I haven't enjoyed short stories like this since Margaret Atwood, Barbara Gowdy and Alice Munro. ~Rusti Lehay, Writer and Editor (just met Rusti at the AGM/Conference of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, held in Montreal, mid-June)
  1. Beverly Akerman is what Alice Munro was supposed to be. ~Email sent to my Canadian publisher, Exile Editions
  1. I wanted to let you know that I purchased your book, and I really enjoyed it. I was just going to read a few of the stories at a time, but I read until the ‘End’ section the first night, and then read that section the next night! I liked [how you demonstrate that] our childhood experiences affect us forever. And what we bury comes to the surface from time to time. I feel the story about the woman who couldn't touch anything without it dying was sad and funny - loved the boys next door - and I liked PIE - as you have now given me a simple recipe that I can remember for pie crust -I am a baker. And the poor woman who had entered probably menopause and her marriage had broken without her noticing it. She was just so angry and exhausted. So many women I feel are and hide it.

    And, I liked how easily you seem to write. Everything kind of just kept flowing. I really admire people who can put their thoughts on paper and have it make sense.

    So, have a lovely week and keep the interesting wall posts coming. And I will recommend and lend your book to friends. Be well.~a Facebook friend I haven’t met in real life (yet!)
  1. Just finished ‘Like Jeremy Irons.’ That was a tough one. Saying I loved it feels contrary to the agony I'm feeling right now. (Perhaps I shouldn't have settled into it with a glass of wine?) Awesome writing - even if my uterus is cramping!~a fellow writer I met at the Writers Federation of New Brunswick’s WordSpring 2010, where I was awarded the David Adams Richards Prize
  1. Counter-intuitive to the title, for me these stories resonate with the sad truth of being a grownup. Life is that damn hard and just-under-the-surface tension saturates our existence. But the kids, they know what's going on. They may not understand all the details but they know the score. Akerman nails that sorrow, highlights it with unexpected humour, credits our resilience and almost never skips a beat. As with any collection of stories, some are stronger than others. Lighter Than Air, The Mysteries, and Broken knocked the wind out of me, forcing me to take a long pause and mull them over, sit a while. ~Chris Benjamin, author of Drive-by Saviours, on Goodreads (met Chris on Facebook)
  1. I enjoyed The Meaning of Children so much that I wished there were twice as many stories! If I had to pick one, ‘Pour Un Instant’ was my favourite. I was sad to come to the end of the book. ~Lisa De Nikolits, author, on (I met Lisa on Facebook and then in person at TMOC’s Toronto launch)
  1. @Beverly_Akerman I am devouring your fabulous book the meaning of children!~Alison Palkhivala, Writer and Editor, on Twitter
  1. Read the first two stories last night. They are amazing. You really capture what the children are feeling and going through. I could relate to both stories, especially the second one where the 8 year old felt alone when her mom was more concerned about the baby, and the girl walking to school and meeting a stranger. Similar to things that happened when I was that age...Can't wait to read the rest of the book.~from an American Facebook friend I haven't met (yet!)
  1. This morning I wrote to a friend in Victoria about your book. This is what I told her: ‘I finished Beverly Akerman's book and really liked it. The theme throughout is children: being a child, being pregnant, abortion, losing a child, being a father, giving a child for adoption. Touchy stuff but she has such kindness, such compassion and infuses hope and love in the saddest situation. She offers unique and surprising insights, it's never sappy or cliché. All this within the short story frame, quite a feat in my opinion. If you can't find her book, I'll send you my copy.’

    I guess that sums up what I felt while reading each story. Here are some of my favorite ones:

    Paternity: you take a man's voice and point of view; stepping in the Oratoire and being confronted by the statue of St. Joseph holding baby Jesus is soo powerful and literally a validation of his own paternal feelings for Daisy.

    Pour un instant: such a sensitive story, two English kids kissing at la Saint-Jean, seduced by Harmonium's lovely song Pour un instant. There are many layers here. Conflict in our two communities. Akiva being murdered for being Jewish, senseless abominable antisemitism. Marcy's lifelong grief. Your ending is so clear and liberating. I felt the water of the lake, I experienced the hope, the joy of being alive - in spite of all this.

    Like Jeremy Irons: I love that you use the second person. It sets the necessary tone of detachment, as if the self is someone else. Your first paragraph is amazing. The OB closing up shop and the Gyno performing abortions = the English community is shrinking. Those were the days when one could chose a doctor! You give a chilling and accurate description of the whole process, from the waiting room to the operating room. Again, I found your ending to be compassionate, surprising and unique. You are a very talented and creative writer! …Thank you for writing such an amazing book and for promoting yourself at the gym. It was a bold and creative move. I would have not known about your writing otherwise.
Me again. I want to thank all the goodhearted people who have shared their thoughts on my book, passed the word along to friends, and just otherwise encouraged me on what is, after all, a sometimes lonely pursuit…this week, I learned my book has been submitted to The Giller Prize committee for consideration. The Giller Prize is Canada’s "most generous literary fiction award." It is an honour to find my book in such august company (and it’s only the beginning of July, too!)
Please feel free to let me know what you think of The Meaning Of Children.
A word on my photos: thought I would just share some of my favourites with you…our lakeside idyll, north of Montreal; dawn at Ogunquit, 2008; "Tenacious" near Banff, 2009.


  1. OK that does it - I'm getting me a copy of the book!

  2. Thanks so much, David!

    Here's another I almost forgot, from Jenn Hardy who blogs at Mama Naturale (;

    All I seem to read these days are parenting books. But I think I might be learning more about being a parent from Beverly Akerman's The Meaning of Children than from anywhere else. I can't put it down.