“It’s All Relative:Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir)”–five big and bright shiny stars

Rouse, Wade. “It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine (A Memoir)”, Crown, 2011.

Five Big and Bright Shiny Stars


Amos Lassen


I am always ready for a book by Wade Rouse and I always look for something new by him. “It’s All Relative” snuck up on me as it came when I was not expecting something new from Rouse. I immediately cleared my schedule and down to read and barely moved until I closed the covers of this the fourth installment of his autobiographical essays. This time Rouse deals with holidays and he uses the holidays as a jumping off point to tell us about his life. He balances humor and tenderness beautifully and we not only get a peek at the writer but we have the opportunity to sample his sublime prose. Rouse has the ability to bring drama, pathos, humor and charm together and then he uses the same techniques to tell us about himself and his family.

I really want to be a part of Wade Rouse’s family. The way he tells it, they have great fun and love each other a great deal and the way that he mixes comedy and heart is amazing. He starts off with the question about the sanity of his family and then guides us through it, holiday by holiday and we see the best and the worst of it. Like every family we meet the eccentrics and those that contribute to the dysfunction of the group yet it all comes together. I laughed, I cried and I had a great time. You cannot help but feel the love here and as it is exchanged your inner smile moves outward. If anyone had come in while I was reading, they would have assumed that there is something wrong with me—how many people read books with grins on their faces and a tissue in hand?

Rouse obviously enjoyed writing this book and we certainly see that throughout the book. Some may say that the humor is self-deprecating and I say it is honest. His family is typical—we all know someone who has a family like Rouse’s. The book captures every holiday and every holiday provides a unique story. Rouse adds a couple that are celebrated by some but certainly not by all—Secretary’s Day, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, Swedish Day, Barbie’s Birthday, and Election Day.

There is only one Wade Rouse and if you have not yet read him, wait no longer—not only will you enjoy yourself thoroughly but you will have some new friends—and if you are brave enough, tell everyone that I sent you to Rouse. You will never regret it.

All of us have families that are nowhere near perfect, but I doubt that many of us are willing to put our families on public display. Rouse shares with the beauty of family and he does so by telling us about his mother, father, in laws, etc and we grow to love them as well. It is because he doesn’t hold back that this is such a fun read.

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