I’m not really a fan of books about motherhood. I’ve read a few, but it’s not a genre I generally seek out. That makes me doubly glad for having discovered Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s Grace Cafe: Serving Up Recipes for Faithful Mothering.

She starts the conversation with a truth I’ve witnessed over and over, among friends and women from all over: “Mothers today don’t have many opportunities to receive a pat on the back.” She continues, later in her introduction, “We can certainly benefit from encouragement and praise to aid and uplift us on our pilgrimage throughout the challenging vocation of motherhood. We can and should extend a hand to help each other along the way.”

In eleven chapters, Donna-Marie serves up advice gleaned from her experiences and observations. I felt, reading it, that we were sitting down and having a discussion over a cozy cup of tea.

This book is perfect especially for mothers who are around their children all the time – I hesitate to say “stay at home” because I am not a “stay at home” mother, but I am around my children for big chunks of time, and I benefited from reading this book. Mothers who find themselves struggling with the demands of motherhood and the many expectations and pulls from the world around, gather! This book is for you!

Each chapter has a central theme – “How can I find myself through the vocation of motherhood?” for example – and a “recipe” to guide you through to the answer. I found the poems and prayers concluding each chapter a good point of reflection and a helpful reminder of Whose design we’re supposed to follow.

Throughout, Donna-Marie sprinkles the wisdom of modern-day saints – notably John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She tackles more than just the easy challenges of Catholic motherhood, and she made me think about why I am the way I am.

There were a few points that made me stop reading – I wasn’t sure I agreed with what Donna-Marie was saying. Going back, though, I appreciated Donna-Marie’s conversational style, which leaves room for thought and growth.