Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting

Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting

Mother, mother-in-law, grandmother--the Pulitzer-winning columnist and #1 bestselling author reflects on the roles we play throughout our lives, sharing personal stories and advice on the special joys and complexities of middle age.It's a little challenging to suss out why exactly it can be so magical. . . . All I know is: The hand. The little hand that takes yours, small...

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Title:Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting
Author:Anna Quindlen
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Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting Reviews

  • Kasa Cotugno

    Anna Quindlen is one of those writers that makes a reader happy that she is so prolific. As with Dani Shapiro, she is as proficient in memoir as she is in fiction, and this lovely sharing memoir of grandmother-hood is a good example. Having been a prize-winning journalist, she writes in a style I appreciate, in dispensing information in fine language without padding.

    Here she discusses the role of the grandmother, how the hardest part of the role is stepping aside as an auxiliary, not performing

    Anna Quindlen is one of those writers that makes a reader happy that she is so prolific. As with Dani Shapiro, she is as proficient in memoir as she is in fiction, and this lovely sharing memoir of grandmother-hood is a good example. Having been a prize-winning journalist, she writes in a style I appreciate, in dispensing information in fine language without padding.

    Here she discusses the role of the grandmother, how the hardest part of the role is stepping aside as an auxiliary, not performing the major role or make the big decisions. She examines, also, parts played by the mother, daughter, mother in law, and daughter in law, all of which she has been, leading to the differences in how the landscape of the concept of family has changed over the years even in her lifetime. Nowadays, the gradual morphing of the cookie jar gramma for instance into a get-down-on-the-floor-and-play glamma.

    Although she is a boomer and I am a war baby, I can still relate to many of her observations and theories.

  • Donna Davis

    Author Anna Quindlen is queen of all things warm and wise, and so it’s not surprising that her ode to grandmothering hits just the right note. I was lucky and read it free and early, thanks to Random House and Net Galley, but it would have been worth the purchase price had it come down to it. This friendly little book is available to the public now.

    Quindlen’s memoir can double as a primer for her peers that are new grandparents also, but that’s not where its greatest strength is found. The most

    Author Anna Quindlen is queen of all things warm and wise, and so it’s not surprising that her ode to grandmothering hits just the right note. I was lucky and read it free and early, thanks to Random House and Net Galley, but it would have been worth the purchase price had it come down to it. This friendly little book is available to the public now.

    Quindlen’s memoir can double as a primer for her peers that are new grandparents also, but that’s not where its greatest strength is found. The most resonant aspect is that common chord, the eloquence with which she gives voice to our common experience. It makes me feel as if she and I are sitting together with our baby pictures—the grandbabies and our children that created them—and as she speaks, I am saying, “I know, right?” I chuckle as she recounts trends in the advice given by experts to new parents: when our first babies were born, we were told to put them to bed on their stomachs so they wouldn’t spit up and choke to death on it; then later children slept on their sides, which seems like a safe bet either way, but babies don’t stay on their sides very long; and now babies are supposed to be safer on their backs. And she voices so well the pride we feel when an adult that we have parented turns into a wonderful parent in his own right. And I nod in agreement as she says of her toddler grandson, “No one else has sounded that happy to see me in many, many years.”

    Quindlen speaks well to the ambivalent moments as well, to the need to hold our tongues when we want to offer advice that hasn’t been requested; at the same time, there’s the relief that comes of not being in charge of all the big decisions. And I echo the outrage that she feels when some ignorant asshole suggests that our biracial grandchild is not part of our blood and bones. (A jerk in Baby Gap wants to know where she got him; she replies that she found him at Whole Foods.)

    Unequivocally joyful is the legacy grandchildren present. “I am building a memory out of spare parts…someday that memory will be all that’s left of me.”

    And then, there are the books:

    “’In the great green room…’

    “’Mouse,’ Arthur says.

    “’There is a mouse,’ I say…falling down the well of memory as I speak, other children, other chairs.”

    Go ahead. Read it with dry eyes. I dare you.

    Quindlen is writing for her peers. If you aren’t a grandparent and don’t expect to become one anytime soon (or perhaps at all,) then this memoir will probably not be a magical experience for you. But the title and book jacket make it clear exactly where she is going, and I am delighted to go with her.

    Highly recommended to grandparents, and to those on the cusp.

  • Celia Buell

    I think now is the perfect time to read this for the first time. I just graduated high school, and am on my way to college orientation as we speak. That all means I am about to start the next stage of my life, which I hope includes family connection and eventually becoming a mother of my own.

    At this stage of my life, I appreciate Quindlen's reflections on how her childhood was different than her children's, and how her grandchildren's would be even more so. Her observations on changing family d

    I think now is the perfect time to read this for the first time. I just graduated high school, and am on my way to college orientation as we speak. That all means I am about to start the next stage of my life, which I hope includes family connection and eventually becoming a mother of my own.

    At this stage of my life, I appreciate Quindlen's reflections on how her childhood was different than her children's, and how her grandchildren's would be even more so. Her observations on changing family dynamics are very well written as well, and the way she talks about her family's evolution from fully Irish Catholic to the diversity her children have in their marriages and in their lives was very interesting. It serves as a good reminder that people can grow out of prejudices.

    It's also really interesting to read her thoughts on the changing meaning of a grandparent. She says the modern grandparent is a fairly recent invention, and I guess it must be, although I've never really thought about that that way. By the time I was six, I only had one living grandparent, my maternal grandmother, who lived far enough away that I never got to have this type of relationship with her.

    My grandmother was born in the Depression era, or maybe right at the start of World War Two. Reading this book made me think about that in a different light. I know my mom had a fairly good relationship with her as a teen, but I never really knew her. She was very set in her ways, and until I was a teenager I never took the time to understand her.

    I've only recently become interested in family history, and really especially only after looking at family photos from way back at her brother's house. I'm really hoping I can talk to my mom's uncles more and try to learn a little more about the family history. Nanaville has rekindled this interest.

    Now was a perfect time for a first read of this story. I can see myself reading it at two other times, two other pivotal points in my life. One would be when I am an expecting mother for the first time, either naturally or adoptive. The second reread will be at the time I'm about to become a grandmother, assuming I live that long. I know that at those points in my life, a book like this will be very helpful.

  • Laura Rash

    What a sweet, sweet book that’s so spot on about the feelings, trials & joys of being a nana! AQ covers just about every aspect including the swearing nana “I am a nana with a rich vocabulary”. On keeping your opinions to yourself with your grandchild’s parents bc “Did they ask you?”. And the gem “A lucky woman gets to trade her MOM mugs in for a NANA mug.”

    Wisdom and wit made this an enjoyable read!

  • Reese

    Anna Quindlen's

    adds to the mounting evidence that, if a book is nonfiction and Anna Quindlen wrote it, I will love it. No wonder. On page after page of her work, I find the uncongealed jello in my mind coherently and cogently presented.

    New to grandparenthood, I am urging open-minded grandparents and grandparents-to-be to read

    . Enjoy it, and learn from it. And new parents, get copies for your parents -- unless you think they'll feel insulted. Perhaps I should have ended the

    Anna Quindlen's

    adds to the mounting evidence that, if a book is nonfiction and Anna Quindlen wrote it, I will love it. No wonder. On page after page of her work, I find the uncongealed jello in my mind coherently and cogently presented.

    New to grandparenthood, I am urging open-minded grandparents and grandparents-to-be to read

    . Enjoy it, and learn from it. And new parents, get copies for your parents -- unless you think they'll feel insulted. Perhaps I should have ended the previous sentence with "

    if you think they'll feel insulted."

  • Toni

    A thoughtful and funny tale on becoming a grandmother!

    Anna entered her own, “Nanaville” with joy and love, thinking, “great, a do over.” (my words.) She was over-the-moon to welcome her eldest son, Quin’s, and daughter-in-law, Lynn’s, first child into the family of waiting relatives. As Anna explains, “First of all, let us acknowledge that, like virtually everything else they’ve done, the baby boomers tend to act as though they’ve invented grandparenting.” My answer to that would be, just as to

    A thoughtful and funny tale on becoming a grandmother!

    Anna entered her own, “Nanaville” with joy and love, thinking, “great, a do over.” (my words.) She was over-the-moon to welcome her eldest son, Quin’s, and daughter-in-law, Lynn’s, first child into the family of waiting relatives. As Anna explains, “First of all, let us acknowledge that, like virtually everything else they’ve done, the baby boomers tend to act as though they’ve invented grandparenting.” My answer to that would be, just as today’s parents think they invented parenting; which was never even a word when I grew up! Well, as we all know, we’re all wrong since it’s been done since mankind existed.

    While Anna was adjusting to being a new Grandmother, this is to say trying to find those invisible borders of helping or intruding, she learned to bite her tongue and shove her hands in her pockets. She willingly admits this was difficult for her considering her personality is not usually in line with a quiet person. Her career as a journalist and writer leans toward speaking up. But there are new rules now, “I know you don’t want to consider this if you’re in the same position I am, and I keep hearing that there are people who pay the notion no mind, but we grandparents are secondary characters, supporting actors. We are not the leads. Mama. Daddy. These are the bedrock.”

    Anna builds a trusting relationship with her daughter-in-law, Lynn, and tries to help her in any way she can; knowing new mothers have the physical conundrums to deal with other than a nursing infant. Sleep comes to mind, nutrition a fast second and perhaps a few minutes with her spouse. She does the same with her son, Quin, who once said he was never having kids, as many of us did in our mid-twenties, as she marvels at how loving and patient he’s become with his son, Arthur.

    Best yet is the chapter on “NONO’s,” these are the women who are in denial of being grandmothers. “Which brings us to what I think of as the nono’s. These are the women who telegraph, at least privately to me, that they have mixed feelings about all this. The aging beauty who asked to be called ‘Glamma.’ A socialite who told me she’d invented the name Tootsie. ‘I’m happy to be a grandmother, but I don’t want to be a babysitter,’ another woman said. But for many of the nono’s, the issue is not time management but growing older. There is no question that whether you are forty or seventy, the simple fact of being a grandparent telegraphs aging.”

    I could easily go on and quote so many funny and tender words from this fantastic book. I have always enjoyed anything Anna Quindlen has written, and this is no exception. Although we are the same age, graduated the same year from high schools less than 10 miles apart, she’s well ahead of me on grandparenting. (plus a few other things!)

    I highly recommend this book whether you are in Nanaville, about to be in it, years from it…..oh whatever, read it, you’ll still enjoy yourself.

    Thank you NetGalley, Random House, and the great Anna Quindlen

  • Sarah

    Essentially the literary equivalent of a grandmother proudly whipping out a wallet full of photos (or, more accurately these days, an IPhone) of her much adored grandson. Prolific author Anna Quindlen pens a love letter to her role as paternal grandma of Arthur, the first child of her son and daughter-in-law. As expected, being a Nana is a title she covets and Arthur a child upon whom she devotes much love and attention. Although this a quick read without any new or profound revelations, even I,

    Essentially the literary equivalent of a grandmother proudly whipping out a wallet full of photos (or, more accurately these days, an IPhone) of her much adored grandson. Prolific author Anna Quindlen pens a love letter to her role as paternal grandma of Arthur, the first child of her son and daughter-in-law. As expected, being a Nana is a title she covets and Arthur a child upon whom she devotes much love and attention. Although this a quick read without any new or profound revelations, even I, not a Nana much less a mother myself, felt my heart lift with satisfaction and joy as Nana Quindlen expressed her sentiments.

  • JanB

    “Sometimes Arthur sees me and yells “Nana!’ in the same way some people might say “ ice cream!” and others might say “Shoe Sale!” No one else has sounded this happy to see me in many, many years.”

    “Mama means Mama, Daddy means Daddy. But Nana might just be a piece of fruit (i.e. banana)”.

    Well, if that didn’t put me in my place I don’t know what will, lol.

    And this, my friends, is the yin and the yang, and perfectly sums up what it means to be a resident of Nanaville.

    I’m a proud Nana. Our son and

    “Sometimes Arthur sees me and yells “Nana!’ in the same way some people might say “ ice cream!” and others might say “Shoe Sale!” No one else has sounded this happy to see me in many, many years.”

    “Mama means Mama, Daddy means Daddy. But Nana might just be a piece of fruit (i.e. banana)”.

    Well, if that didn’t put me in my place I don’t know what will, lol.

    And this, my friends, is the yin and the yang, and perfectly sums up what it means to be a resident of Nanaville.

    I’m a proud Nana. Our son and daughter-in-law have made my husband and myself the proud grandparents of 3: a 3 year old and 5 month old twins. The love I have for these children and what I wouldn’t do for them knows no bounds. It’s an indescribable love that surpasses all understanding. So when one of my favorite authors, Anna Quindlen, wrote a book on the subject I was first in line.

    Her best advice to give a grandmother (or grandfather): butt out. It can all go so very wrong for this generation of helicopter parents who are now grandparents. The impulses are powerful, but must be curbed.

    A major question all grandparents need to ask before opening their mouths:

    Did they ask for your opinion?

    I had to laugh at the daughter who gave her mother a 3 page single-spaced word doc before letting her babysit. Haha…been there done that 🙋🏻‍♀️ Suck it up Grandma, it’s all about spending time with the grandchild. Never mind that you have successfully kept your babies alive and they are now fully functioning adults. Your unsolicited advice will be perceived as judgment and criticism, so be quiet.

    The two commandments of Nanaville:

    1. Love the grandchildren

    2. Hold your tongue

    “Nana judgement must be employed judiciously, and exercised carefully. Be warned: “those who make their opinions sound like the Ten Commandments see their grandchildren only on major holidays and in photographs.“

    There’s no relationship on earth like that of a grandparent and child. It is true unconditional love and one that benefits both the grandparent and the child. if the roles are recognized and the boundaries observed, there’s nothing on earth quite like it.

    “In Nanaville, there is always in the back of my mind the understanding that I am building a memory out of spare parts and that, someday, that memory will be all that’s left of me.”

    Amen.

    On the love a grandparent has:

    “I am much more capable of seeing him purely as himself than I ever was with his father (the author’s son)”

    It’s about being our best, to be our best selves around our grandchildren. It’s not about what you have to do but about what you want to do. What you want to do out of pure unconditional love.

    I myself wouldn’t want to live anywhere else on earth but Nanaville. It's truly the happiest place on Earth. And this book is a love letter to grandparents and grandchildren everywhere. I am not nearly as eloquent as Anna Quindlen and I'm ever so grateful she has put into words what I feel in my heart.

    *Many thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Here's the start:

    "Sunlight spreads across the checkerboard tiles in the kitchen, and so many other things: wooden spoons, a rubber frog, Tupperware, a couple of puzzle pieces, some plastic letters, elements of the obstacle course of the active toddler. Did you know that the wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town? They do, over and over again, sung by the robotic voice of some plastic magnetic thing on the refrigerator. Oh, and Old MacDonald has a farm. The hokey pokey? That's

    Here's the start:

    "Sunlight spreads across the checkerboard tiles in the kitchen, and so many other things: wooden spoons, a rubber frog, Tupperware, a couple of puzzle pieces, some plastic letters, elements of the obstacle course of the active toddler. Did you know that the wheels on the bus go round and round, all through the town? They do, over and over again, sung by the robotic voice of some plastic magnetic thing on the refrigerator. Oh, and Old MacDonald has a farm. The hokey pokey? That's what it's all about.

    This soundtrack, I know, will continue into perpetuity, first the nursery song, then the pop song, the rock song, the eagworms of motherhood that emanate from the toy radio, the computer, from behind a closed bedroom door with a placard that says PLEASE KNOCK. I have been here before. Sort of."

    I dare you to resist reading on.

    And how could you resist? With so much more to share, as the marvelous Anna Quindlen leads us newbies down the delightful path that is Grandmotherhood.

    A member of that tribe? Don't miss this one.

  • Diane S ☔

    As a grandparent of thirteen, I adored this book. Every grandparent will recognize or relate to something in this book. Told in such a natural voice that I felt she was next to me and we were discussing Parenthood and how being a grandparent is even more special. Their is humor, lessons learned, experiences related, and how wonderful and special is the bond between her and her grandson. In fact, many of my favorite episodes in this book is when she is alone taking care of her grandson, or just s

    As a grandparent of thirteen, I adored this book. Every grandparent will recognize or relate to something in this book. Told in such a natural voice that I felt she was next to me and we were discussing Parenthood and how being a grandparent is even more special. Their is humor, lessons learned, experiences related, and how wonderful and special is the bond between her and her grandson. In fact, many of my favorite episodes in this book is when she is alone taking care of her grandson, or just spending time with him. Her wonder at this amazing little person shines through out.

    "At a certain point you realize there's a higher level of agreement about grandchildren than there is about the benefits of democracy, or chocolate."

    "A big part of our grandparent job is expressing ecstatic appreciation for everything from urination to reflexes. We must always silence the irritated voice of adult competency. Okay, I get it you drew a 3. But, honestly, a 3 isn't that hard."

    "Because that's one of the really important things about books, that they enable you to talk to your children about all sorts of things, sometimes without speaking at all."

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