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Book Review: Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled by Rachel Starr Thomson and Carolyn Joy Currey

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”What do you get when you throw twenty children, four parents, several cross-country trips, and a sense of humour between the covers of one book?"

That's a question many adults would be terrified to ask, let alone embrace. However, for large, Christian, homeschoooling families, this situation may not seem too out of the ordinary. Rachel Starr Thomson and Carolyn Joy Currey are cousins with more than a few things in common; these eldest daughters of families who delight in raising and educating their children for the Lord met in person during a chaotic-cross country move, and have been fast friends ever since.

Sharing a zany, wholesome sense of humour, the pair teamed up and co-wrote the entertaining memoir Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled. I’m glad they did. With family size statistics like these busting open the seams of the North American demographic corset, it can be all to easy to feel isolated if your tent is pitched in the same tent. If you, your spouse, or your children have ever found yourselves wondering, “Are we the only ones who…?” I highly recommend you take a peek into the lives of the Thomson and Currey families.

Each short and snappy, slice-of-life chapter (written by either Thomson or Currey), invites us into the joyous tumult of family life. From “The Battle of Underwear Mountain” — we have one of those — to “Vacuum Cleaners I Have Known” — wherein I found assurance for my husband that ours is not the only home inhabited by clumps of tangled hair on the rug due to its many long-haired occupants — and everything in between, this volume is both frank and comedic.

As an added charming flourish, both Currey and Thomson write with a distinctly homeschooled flair. Sprinkling such gems as “quoth” into the mix, with a sense of precise syntax paired with oddball impressions add to the distinct character of the text. A few times I found myself thinking, “Someone has certainly been reading (or watched) Tolkien and Austen lately.” With my ongoing predilection for vintage vocabulary, I found these stylistic renderings quite endearing.

The authors remind us that no matter how chaotic the situation seems, the opportunity to kick-back, laugh, and enjoy the good gifts that God has given us is always available. Their light-hearted spin on large-family living sheds much needed levity into the direst (and most bizarre) of situations. Truly — once you’ve heard the account of the experimental hot-dogs-in-the-crockpot-powered-by-the-cigarette-lighter story, it will not be forgotten — and you’ll have a great tale to tell your kids the next time they complain about hot dogs for lunch again!

Part One of Tales of the Heartily Homeschooled can be downloaded as a free .pdf from Rachel Starr Thomson’s website.

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