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The Meaning of Children [Kindle Edition]

Beverly Akerman
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99
 
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  • Length: 230 pages
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Book Description

Award winning short story collection that captures pivotal moments—of childhood, adolescence, parenthood, and beyond--in the under-appreciated world of women. Disparate decades, genders, and narrative voices woven together by themes of sex, death, guilt, social prejudice.

And love, always love.

A girl discovers a fear of heights as her parents’ marriage unravels; a thirty-something venture fund manager frets over his daughter’s paternity; an orphan whose hands kill whatever they touch is accused of homophobia; a suicidal daycare worker has a very bad day; a mother of two can only bear to consider abortion in the second person; the wife of a retirement-aged professor finds him unconscious near his computer. The 14 stories of The Meaning Of Children speak to all who—though aware the world can be a very dark place—can’t help but long for redemption.

Winner of the David Adams Richards Prize; Top 10 List of the CBC – Scotiabank Giller Prize Readers’ Choice Contest, and many others.

A keen, incisive vision into the hidden world of children as well as intimate knowledge of the secret spaces that exist between the everyday events of life. A work with a brilliant sense of story…Magical, and so refreshing for me to read. I absolutely loved it and I hope it goes on to do marvelous things. Yours is a luminous talent.
~JoAnne Soper-Cook, Author and Judge, 2010 David Adams Richards Prize

Loved your book; read it in one sitting. Each [story] is either told by a child, or about a child. And it’s interesting because I think depending on the age of the person reading it, you relate to different ones. But especially to feminists, growing up with it, wrestling with our beliefs, and whether it worked out or not… a lot of women in this book are trapped. We were trapped by what we were brought up to believe. And then we’re trapped by the marriages we find ourselves in, and the children we have…But on the other hand, each story ends with a certain resolve. There’s that sense of okay this is my situation, but. And that’s what the meaning of children is. It’s about hope. It’s about the future.
~Mutsumi Takahashi, Anchor, CTV News Montreal

A collection of 14 short stories which covers the range of experience from the point of view of children, mums, and also aging parents as well. It’s all there in this lovely little book, short stories about life in a family that might just resemble yours. I wanted to congratulate you on the publication of this book and I hope it goes far far afield for you. A wonderful gift for mother’s day, perhaps more long lived than the usual cut flowers.
~Anne Lagacé Dowson, CJAD Radio journalist

This isn’t the invented childhood of imagination and wonderment…[here] children both corrupt and redeem: each other, family relationships and the female body.
~Katie Hewitt, The Globe & Mail http://bit.ly/ex4zD8

Akerman holds up our greatest fears, not to dwell on them, but to marvel at our commitment to life, especially to passing it on to others.
~Anne Chudobiak, The Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, and Regina Leader Post

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.
~Meghan Macdonald, Transatlantic Literary Agency

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...Akerman nails that sorrow, highlights it with unexpected humour, credits our resilience and almost never skips a beat.
~Chris Benjamin, Author of Drive-by Saviours, on Goodreads (4 stars)


Editorial Reviews

Review

"A luminous talent...A keen, incisive vision into the hidden world of children as well as intimate knowledge of the secret spaces that exist between the everyday events of life. A work with a brilliant sense of story."
~JoAnne Soper-Cook, Judge, 2010 David Adams Richards Prize

"Profound...a writer of  such substance that she is obviously headed to the top echelon  of writers of our time...a book of rare sensitivity and masterful creative writing [that] must surely be shared with as many friends and fellow readers as possible."
~Grady Harp, Amazon.com Hall of Fame Reviewer, ***** (5 stars)

"I can't stop thinking about this book...I can't remember a book, let alone a collection of short stories, where I could identify so heavily with the emotions and feelings of the characters."
~Martin Crosbie, author of My Temporary Life, ***** (5 stars)

"Remarkable in its intensity and craft, The Meaning of Children is a book that bears discovering, and Akerman a writer to watch."
~ Samuel Peralta, poet, author of Sonata Vampirica and other books, ***** (5 stars)

"This isn't the invented childhood of imagination and wonderment...[here] children both corrupt and redeem: each other, family relationships and the female body."
~Katie Hewitt, The Globe & Mail


"Loved your book; read it in one sitting."
~Mutsumi Takahashi, Anchor, CTV News Montreal


"...this lovely little book, short stories about life in a family that might just resemble yours...A wonderful gift for mother's day, perhaps more long lived than the usual cut flowers."
~Anne Lagacé Dowson, CJAD Radio

From the Author

Captures pivotal moments in the under-appreciated world of girls & women. Childhood, adolescence, parenthood, or life as a whole, disparate decades and narrative voices braided together by themes of sex, death, and social prejudice.

And love, always love...a girl discovers a fear of heights as her parents' marriage unravels; a thirty-something venture fund manager frets over his daughter's paternity; an orphan whose hands kill whatever they touch is accused of homophobia; a mother of two can only bear to consider abortion in the second person; the wife of a retirement-aged professor finds him unconscious near his computer...The Meaning Of Children speaks to all who--though aware the world can be a very dark place--can't help but long for redemption.

Product Details

  • File Size: 424 KB
  • Print Length: 230 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007H067R6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,584 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't stop thinking about this book May 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's been over a week since I read this collection of short stories and the characters are still with me.
These are stories about real people, real children, teenagers, adults, in real times. I went through a whole range of emotions when I read them, some good, some not so good. When the child was sitting on the stairs listening to her parents, I was right there with her. When the adult was sitting by the lake contemplating what happened years before and looking at her present day life, I was sitting across from her, doing the same thing. I can't remember a book, let alone a collection of short stories, where I could identify so heavily with the emotions and feelings of the characters.
As far as I'm concerned, this is what good writing, and a good book, should do for you. Yes, it entertained for sure, but it made me think and remember.

If you enjoy quality writing and a book that will make you think about where you've been and where you're going read The Meaning Of Children.
Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life-altering read is so rare for a writer ... May 25, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I reviewed this title on my Blog a while back and as you will read it has altered my own thoughts on childhood recollections. Thrilled to not only own a personally signed copy but to now have an iPad version to re-read these haunting stories. Not only for people with children, but for anyone who was ever a child.

Some excerpts from my blog review pasted here (to read more visit my web site and blog):

"... A life-altering read is so rare for me, and I imagine for many writers, with a critical eye often hard to keep closed while hoping to get caught up and swept away while reading fiction for pleasure ... This collection of short stories is her debut into the fiction book world after a solid career in molecular genetics research. Her stories are as diverse as her changing career path and yet string together a theme as connected as a genetic chain.

Very few times in my life resonate so strongly to a past and a childhood that has me always facing forward and rarely wanting to look back. As I read Akerman's book instantly I am that child on the first page, in the first sentence, whose parents "When the arguing started would get louder and louder, till they broke into my dreams." As the stories moved along I, like her character, realized how much I learned from eavesdropping during the arguments, and sadly like the child I too knew "... where the patched holes were in the walls" and that "... it would be smarter to keep my opinions to myself." In the next few tales the loneliness hit home of a child walking along to school wishing for her own puppy and that she could write a book and feeling very misunderstood by grown-ups.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Akerman takes you back April 18, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Akerman takes you back to the time you were a child. No matter you did not grow up in Montreal or Jewish, the situations, conflicts, joys and fears are universal. Akerman grounds emotions with rich descriptions and a strong sense of place.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of Children January 16, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Meaning of Children
By Beverly Akerman

My first impression of the book was, "Wow, this woman can write." The author's descriptions of settings are so vivid that I felt as if I was standing in the scenes of her stories.

In The Meaning of Children Ms. Akerman uses a series of short vignettes to explore innocence, violence and the human condition. For most of us certain scenes from childhood stand out as vivid memories. This book is a series of such memories--each of pivotal points in the life of a child.

This is not light reading as the stories deal with issues of self-image and sexuality by dramatizing how one seemingly small incident can shape a woman's image of herself and her interpretation of reality. However, I recommend The Meaning of Children to anyone who is a student of human nature.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
At times chance enters our lives and we encounter moments created by a wordsmith that, like it or not, raise memories and experiences that we have either experienced, watched, heard about, or dreamed and the stories in Beverly Akerman's book of short stories THE MEANING OF CHILDREN do just that. They slowly creep into our psyches, clutch a holding place, and stay with us permanently. This collection of the whispers and screams, longings and needs of being a child and the responses of those closest to that child are the works of a magician, a writer of such substance that she is obviously headed to the top echelon of writers of our time.

Some critics are saying that this book is about the underappreciated world of women and perhaps that stance is valid: there certainly are enough tales of anorgasmia, to abortion, to preparing to say the final goodbye to a dying child to the vagaries of holding a household together despite the external (an internal) flaws that creep into crack marriages. But I don't see men being put into negative places just to serve the purpose of making a collection of stories hang together with a theme. No, these stories are all about the influence of bringing a child into the world and the benefits and consequences of the way life changes because of that. And overriding everything else is the panoply of forms of love that transcend all else.

I like the way the author (or agent or some caring one who seeks to gain our attention to this book) states it: `...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of Children!
The Meaning of Children by Beverly Akerman is a beautiful arrangement. This collection is filled with mesmerizing pieces that left me wanting more. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Brenda
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book that holds your interest!
It's nice for a change to read a collection of great stories that are interesting and ironic. Some are humorous and others a relaxing read. Read more
Published 16 days ago by boop20227
5.0 out of 5 stars I hope Beverly Akerman scores a major book publishing deal ...
I hope Beverly Akerman scores a major book publishing deal. This woman CAN write. Her short stories in this book are poignant and powerful. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Nina Rotz
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Excellent!
Wow. A fantastic collection of short stories with something about each one to enjoy and remember. Great read - so glad I did.
Published 20 months ago by January9
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories From a Child's Point of View
Fourteen poignant, sad and funny short stories bringing the topics of our time home through the eyes of a chld. Read more
Published on January 13, 2013 by Patricia A. Guthrie
4.0 out of 5 stars The Meaning of Children by Beverly Akerman
The Meaning of Children by Beverly Akerman
Posted on December 31, 2012 by Clayton Bye

The Meaning of Children by Beverly Akerman

Tumbalalaika... Read more
Published on January 12, 2013 by Clayton Bye
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Didn't want to put it down. Stories very different from each other and all very interesting and delightful. Very well written.
Published on November 23, 2012 by Debra Kleinhans
3.0 out of 5 stars WELL WRITTEN BUT EXPECTED MORE
I agree with other readers that it is well writtten especially as they are short stories which gives the author very little time to develop the characters. Read more
Published on October 28, 2012 by Annie Athens
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
Beverley Akerman's Meaning of Children is a wonderful collection of thoughtful and interesting stories from someone who has a gift for seeing people in a way most of us would miss. Read more
Published on September 27, 2012 by Sandi Altner
5.0 out of 5 stars Grace, subtlety, and emotional precision
Years ago, I read a remark to the effect that great writers are people who never forgot what it was like to be a child. Beverly Akerman remembers her childhood in every detail. Read more
Published on August 30, 2012 by Steve
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More About the Author



"Beverly Akerman's collection of stories The Meaning of Children manages to capture with both wit and wisdom the effervescence, the indignities, the curiosity, and the fear that are part of a child's eye view of the world. This book is teeming with wit and quality observation." ~ J.I. Segal Award Committee for the Mona Elaine Adilman Prize for English Fiction and Poetry on a Jewish theme, Nov. 14, 2012

After over two decades in molecular genetics research, Beverly Akerman realized she'd been learning more and more about less and less. Skittish at the prospect of knowing everything about nothing, she turned, for solace, to writing. Her story collection The Meaning of Children was released in 2011 by Exile Editions. Winner of the David Adams Richards Prize, a CBC-Scotiabank Giller Prize Readers' Choice Contest Top 10, honourable mention in General Fiction for the Eric Hoffer Prize, and many others.

The Globe & Mail said, "This isn't the invented childhood of imagination and wonderment...[here] children both corrupt and redeem: each other, family relationships and the female body." Other recent honours: shortlisted for Aesthetica Magazine's Creative Works Competition, winner of PWAC's 2011 Short Article Award, Pushcart Prize nominations in fiction and nonfiction. Credits include The Globe & Mail, The Hill Times, The Jewish Magazine, Maclean's, The Montreal Gazette, The National Post, The National Review of Medicine, The Toronto Star, CBC Radio One, myriad literary and scientific journals and other publications. She's strangely pleased to believe she's the only Canadian writer to have sequenced her own DNA.

See "How to become an e-book sensation. Seriously" at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/how-to-become-an-e-book-sensation-seriously/article4103854/.

More Beverly at:

Beverly's Blog: http://beverlyakerman.blogspot.com/
Beverly's Facebook pages: http://www.facebook.com/TheMeaningofChildren and http://www.facebook.com/beverly.akerman
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Beverly_Akerman


TV & Radio Interviews: http://bit.ly/nJpCHj; http://bit.ly/reqcN3; http://bit.ly/pOGFc9

Reader and Reviewer Response to Beverly Akerman's The Meaning Of Children:


A keen, incisive vision into the hidden world of children as well as intimate knowledge of the secret spaces that exist between the everyday events of life. A work with a brilliant sense of story...Magical, and so refreshing for me to read. I absolutely loved it and I hope it goes on to do marvellous things. Yours is a luminous talent.

~JoAnne Soper-Cook, Author and Judge, the WFNB's 2010 David Adams Richards Prize



Loved your book... read it in one sitting.

~Mutsumi Takahashi, Anchor, CTV News Montreal; Interview


This isn't the invented childhood of imagination and wonderment...[here] children both corrupt and redeem: each other, family relationships and the female body.

~Katie Hewitt, The Globe & Mail



Akerman holds up our greatest fears, not to dwell on them, but to marvel at our commitment to life, especially to passing it on to others.

~Anne Chudobiak, The Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, and Regina Leader Post

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



Your book The Meaning of Children is great and so are you!

~Anne Lagacé Dowson, CJAD Radio journalist, on Twitter; Interview



Akerman engages with dichotomies. Childhood is that safe, magical, carefree time and place -- but it's also risky, threatening, ominous and dangerous -- full of impenetrable mystery around things seen and experienced, but beyond understanding. And if it's not too much of a simplification or stating the obvious, life and the world are not gentle on children simply for being children...If, as Dostoevsky once remarked, and as is quoted on the collection's frontispiece, "The soul is healed by being with children," it is the tragedy of adulthood that we become so isolated from childhood -- and what children offer us. Artfully, evocatively, Beverly Akerman's The Meaning of Children reminds us of that.

~Darrell Squires, The Western Star


Beverly's background as a scientist, MSc and twenty years as a molecular researcher, inevitably spills into the stories...characters, the settings and her style. Intelligent, objective, open-minded but not clinical, her prose is refreshing and unprejudiced. Her characters are frank and genuine...With The Meaning of Children, we get a beautifully written exposé on the meaning of life.

~Francine Diot-Layton, The Rover



Your book is filled with insight and wisdom and gorgeous moving stories...You are dazzling. (I had read "Pie" long ago. It is just as moving the second time).

~Hal Ackerman (no relation), UCLA Screenwriting Area Co-Chair and author of Stein Stoned and Stein Stung



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.

~Jenn Hardy, Writer, Editor and Blogger at http://mamanaturale.ca



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



Beverly Akerman is what Alice Munro was supposed to be.

~Mike Rose (received by my publisher, via email)



A life-altering read is so rare for me, and I imagine for many writers, with a critical eye often hard to keep closed while hoping to get caught up and swept away while reading fiction for pleasure...Her stories are as diverse as her changing career path and yet string together a theme as connected as a genetic chain...Children weave their way through every tale...always sparking the reader to question where in all these stories sits their own story.

~Michelle Greysen, Writer, Editor, and Blogger



[You show us how] our childhood experiences affect us forever. And what we bury comes to the surface from time to time....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.

~Carlene Orefici, a Facebook friend I haven't met in real life (yet!)



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!

~Lisa Dalrymple, Winner of The Writers Union of Canada's 2011 Writing for Children Competition



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 of The Hungry Mirror, on Amazon.ca



@Beverly_Akerman I am devouring your fabulous book The Meaning of Children!

~Alison Palkhivala, Writer and Editor, on Twitter



This morning I wrote to a friend in Victoria. 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.' 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.

~Diane Des Roches, new gym friend and budding writer



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