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Alexander and the Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent, Terrific Ninety Days: An Almost Completely Honest Account of What Happened to Our Family When Our ... Came to Live with Us for Three Months Hardcover – October 23, 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Viorst has her house exactly the way she likes it, with all the fine things that she denied herself when raising three rambunctious sons. But that order is delightfully disturbed when her youngest son, Alexander (the inspiration for her famous picture book), his wife and their three young children return to the nest while their house is being renovated. Her account of the three-month stay, replete with disruptions, awkwardness and wonderfully affectionate moments, is a sweet and mildly humorous testament to a family whose loving bonds are powerfully evident. Viorst intersperses familial anecdotes with musings on modern parenting and its problems, including various approaches to accommodating three generations in one house. Merlington's tone matches Viorst's text perfectly, conveying Viorst's defiant defensiveness about and gentle amusement at her own foibles, particularly her penchants for order and her almost complete inability to repress the sharing of helpful advice. This charming minimemoir doesn't break any new ground, but it doesn't have to.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


"Viorst adds quick reflections on her personal growth, her life, and her marriage.... The stories are delightful enough to stand alone." ---Library Journal --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416550054
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416550051
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,383,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Judith Viorst, prolific author of scads of books - children's, poetry, popular psychology, and others - has returned, this time with an intimate, tender, and truly funny story of the three months that her youngest son Alexander, his wife Marla, and their three small - five, two, and four months - children moved into the big Washington DC Victorian family home, the empty nest of a contented Viorst and her sage husband Milton, while renovations were being done to their own house.

Viorst describes the moving-in, the getting-adjusted, and the myriad changes that five additional people bring to a two-person household. She loves them but it isn't always easy. She holds her tongue. She resists giving helpful advice. She stores the breakables and baby-proofs for real. There are sippy cups, diapering supplies, toys, and brightly-colored clutter where before there had been clean surfaces and carefully-chosen adult things.

Viorst enacts rules, forbidding glue, play-dough and the eating of chocolate on the velvet upholstery. On the other hand, she plays with the kids. She sits on the floor and shows her grandchildren how to build houses of cards. She lovingly admires and respects her daughter-in-law (and of course her son) and baby-sits with gusto.

There are moments of utter poignancy, for example when granddaughter Olivia queries her grandfather as to who he thinks is the prettiest, she or her grandmother. The answer is pure diplomacy, ("Grandma, because she's my wife") though it's painful at the time.

True to herself, she includes sensible and smart observations on marriage and family life along with commentary on today's "hyperparenting" compared to the way she and her husband raised their sons in the 1960's.
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By Elaine on December 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a new mother-in-law w/a first grandchild, I found this book
so useful b/c it helped me to laugh at myself and put
the conflicts w/my son and his new family in perspective.
A wonderful gift for any new set of grandparents, even if
they don't live in the same house for three months!
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book right after my husband, our two young kids and I moved back home after living for 2 months with my mother (in a VERY small house) during some home reconstruction. I expected to find some hilarious anecdotes similar to some of the humorous events (retrospectively) that transpired during our stay with my mother. There were a few funny moments, but on the whole, I found her excessive praise of how PERFECT her kids and grandchildren are to be not only annoying but also unbelievable.

Viorst spends a good deal of time talking about the plights of parenting today, and the tendency for kids to be over-parented, over-scheduled, and/or over-indulged. She takes great pains, however, to emphasize that HER sons and their wives do not make those parenting mistakes. Well then, why bring them up? Why not just write a book about the problem of parenting today? She admits that she let her son and daughter-in-law read/approve the manuscript before it was published, and you can sense that in the writing. It simply lacks the hard-core honesty that would make a book like this a success.

I guess it's just not all that interesting to read a book about a family that is ostensibly so perfect. I expected to read more about the fault lines in the relationships and the experience that the love of family overcomes. Maybe I should write that book...
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Format: Hardcover
Children returning home as adults is becoming commonplace nowadays; usually they don't come back with a wife and three kids. But here comes Alexander of the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Home again, this time with his wife and three kids. The Alexander Five have come to stay for ninety days while their home is being remodeled. They're safely ensconced on the third floor of Judith Viorst's old Victorian but spillover to the rest of the house is inevitable. Now if they can just avoid Judith's beloved velvet-covered furniture....

Viorst shares with us the ups and downs of adjusting to the new living situation. She notes that, "Mothers don't stop being mothers when their children are grown but remain in a state of Permanent Parenthood." So she struggles to keep from offering uninvited advice too frequently and she learns to tolerate "levels of disorder that she thought she couldn't abide." Often she reminds herself that "temporary is good". We can almost hear her teeth grinding together as her composure is challenged.

Her love for her family is clear but it vies with her love for order and organization in a brief but entertaining book.

She summarizes their time together by saying: "I think I'm a better person for having had this experience but I wouldn't say I'm a different person. I'm better because while they lived here with us, I laughed more and grumbled less...And when I called attention to what, in my view, were endangered-grandchildren situations, I did my very best to speak in tones of concern, not panicked shrieks. Yes, while they were here, I learned that I could live, if I had to live, with the unpredictable. But now that they've left, I'm back to my old routines."
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