Sweetwater

Growing Girls:
The Mother of All Adventures

Bantam Dell 2006 ISBN 055380264X

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Award-winning author Jeanne Marie Laskas has charmed and delighted readers with her heartwarming and hilarious tales of life on Sweetwater Farm. Now she offers her most personal and most deeply felt memoir yet as she embarks on her greatest, most terrifying, most rewarding endeavor of all….

A good mother, writes Jeanne Marie Laskas in her latest report from Sweetwater Farm, would have bought a house in the suburbs with a cul-de-sac for her kids to ride bikes around instead of a ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere with a rooster. With the wryly observed self-doubt all mothers and mothers-to-be will instantly recognize, Laskas offers a poignant and laugh-out-loud-funny meditation on that greatest–and most impossible–of all life’s journeys: motherhood.

What is it, she muses, that’s so exhausting about being a mom? You’d think raising two little girls would be a breeze compared to dealing with the barely controlled anarchy of “attack” roosters, feuding neighbors, and a scheme to turn sheep into lawn mowers on the fifty-acre farm she runs with her bemused husband Alex. But, as any mother knows, you’d be wrong.

From struggling with the issues of race and identity as she raises two children adopted from China to taking her daughters to the mall for their first manicures, Jeanne Marie captures those magic moments that make motherhood the most important and rewarding job in the world–even if it’s never been done right. For, as she concludes in one of her three a.m. worry sessions, feeling like a bad mother is the only way to know you’re doing your job.

Whether confronting Sasha’s language delay, reflecting on Anna’s devotion to a creepy backwards-running chicken, feeling outclassed by the fabulous homeroom moms, or describing the rich, secret language each family shares, these candid observations from the front lines of parenthood are filled with love and laughter–and radiant with the tough, tender, and timeless wisdom only raising kids can teach us.

Interview on Bill Thompson’s Eye On Books
It may be a cliche to say it, but it’s because it’s true: motherhood is the world’s most important, most difficult, and most rewarding job. Listen to the interview.



The Exact Same Moon:
Fifty Acres and a Family

Bantam Dell 2003 ISBN 0553381490

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In Fifty Acres and a Poodle, Jeanne Marie Laskas described how she survived her first hilariously tumultuous year at Sweetwater Farm. Now she returns with a funny, touching, and personal new memoir of what happens after your dream comes true.

With a picture-postcard farm, a wonderful marriage, two mules, and a new refrigerator that spits crushed ice, what more can a girl ask for? That’s precisely the question Jeanne Marie asks herself as she and Alex settle into their new life at Sweetwater Farm. Two years ago they left the city behind for a life filled with the practical, often comical, lessons of living close to the land—and they never looked back. Yet when her strong-willed mom is hospitalized with a sudden and mysterious paralysis, Jeanne Marie rushes home to Philadelphia and her extended, sometimes chaotic, but always loving family. It’s there that she realizes what is still missing from her life: a family of her own. Now it’s a matter of bringing up the subject to her husband, Alex, fifteen years older and with adult children of his own, who seems terrified that she’s thinking of adopting a Chihuahua.

With warmth, wisdom, and unfailing humor, Laskas tells the poignant story of her search for motherhood—and what happens when a woman risks happily-ever-after for something even more precious.

The Exact Same Moon is filled with hilarious and heartwarming vignettes of people and a way of life you’ll be glad you met. From “borrowing” sheep to help mow the lawn and sitting in on the racy hay jokes at the Agway Equine Clinic, to befriending the notorious old lady who holds the water rights to their future pond, corrupting the neighbors with satellite TV, and learning the fine art of going a-calling, Laskas proves once again that laughter, love, and wisdom are truly homegrown.

Listen to an interview on Bill Thompson’s Eye On Books.



Fifty Acres and a Poodle:
A Story of Love, Livestock, and Finding Myself on a Farm

Bantam Dell 2000 ISBN 055338015X

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Jeanne Marie Laskas had dreams of life on a farm that she couldn’t get out of her head. A dream of fleeing her otherwise happy urban life for fresh air and open space. A dream she would discover was about something more profound than that. A dream she never expected to come true. Until a hot summer afternoon led to a drive in the country, where a place that had existed only in her fantasies turned out to be real—and for sale.

The place is almost too perfect to be believed, but there it is: a pretty-as-a-postcard farm, with an Amish barn, a chestnut grove, and vistas so beautiful, they take her breath away. And in that moment she knows that this is the spot where her future begins. So she drags her boyfriend Alex, a committed urban dweller with zero agricultural awareness who owns a poodle, into her scheme, hoping that love will somehow conquer all.

But buying a postcard—fifty acres of scenery—and living on it are two entirely different matters.

In this funny yet tender tale, Laskas shares what happens when you follow your dream—and what happens when it’s almost snatched away.

Fifty Acres and a Poodle is a charming and surprisingly poignant memoir of Jeanne Marie Laskas’ first year on Sweetwater Farm. It is a journey peopled by unforgettable characters: Billy, the local contractor who bulldozes her briars, takes her shopping for tractors, and advises her on buying a mule; Tim, the FedEx driver whose truck becomes Marley’s obsession and nearly his downfall; the local hunters who present her with an entire wardrobe of blaze-orange hats; and Bob the cat, whose valiant fight for life gives her the courage to love.

Jeanne Marie Laskas writes with exhilarating wit and extraordinary wisdom about life, love, and finding your true self on a farm.

Interview on Bill Thompson’s Eye On Books
Take a city-dwelling couple and plop them down in the middle of rural America and you get a bestselling book by journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas. It’s not a work of fiction– this is her story, and this book is a continuation of the story begun in her first book, Fifty Acres And a Poodle. Listen to the interview

Reviews

“Rarely has a city girl transformed herself into a country goddess with such humor.”
–Rita Mae Brown

“A delightful memoir about love and relocation…[by] an accomplished journalist and also a deft storyteller…Hilarious…a pleasurable read indeed.”
Newsday

“Jeanne Marie Laskas is the thinking woman’s Erma Bombeck…[with] a talent for finding wisdom in daily life…Even the most entrenched urbanite will be charmed by this book.”
–Andrea Sachs, Time.com.

“A touching story told lyrically, and a story that offers wisdom for us readers to consider.”
–Dr. Robert Coles, Pulitzer Prize winner

“For anyone who’d like to chuck it all and move to the country.”
The Washington Post

“Humorous…This true-life tale charts a big-city girl’s transformation to farm gal.”
People

“Jeanne Marie Laskas is a formidable reporter and one damn fine writer.”
Esquire