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Totlandia: The Onesies

TotlandiaA book about playdates? Yes. Consider me there.

Totlandia is a short fiction novel series about the exclusive Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club, a group with a waiting list and very selective criteria for inclusion. The Onesies books follow the group of moms and one year olds who are chosen for conditional acceptance into the PHM&T Onesies group. The moms are pitted against one another through a series of challenges designed to test each mom’s limits and have them show their worth to the selection committee, headed by the super-controlling and impossible to please Bettina.

I just finished Totlandia: The Onesies, Book 1 (Fall) and Book 2 (Winter) and loved them both! These women are so deliciously awful to one another. They each have secrets, which are revealed along the way and would surely disqualify them for membership in the Moms & Tots Club. The way they go about hiding their secrets from the group, plus the way that the other members of the group protect one another will break your heart one moment and have you giggling to yourself the next.

I always have to give a fair content warning, so that y’all aren’t surprised by some things. There are some…ummmm romantic scenes that are a bit graphic, but other than that, there isn’t a lot of language throughout the books.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, though I can’t say they’re all likeable. These are women dealing with situations that could be happening to you or your neighbor. Sure, they’re dramatized for the books sake, but many of the conditional Onesies felt so real to me. A newly single mom, a working mom struggling to do it all, a mother crushed by the realization that child is struggling developmentally. You’ll find yourself warming to these women soon after meeting them and rooting for them, whether or not that means they make it into the Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club!

I was able to ask some questions of Josie Brown, author of the Totlandia books. Here’s my Q & A with her:


Q: The judgmental über-earthy mom, Chakra. Please tell me she isn’t based on a real person you’ve met! What was your inspiration for her character?
 
A: HAHAHA! Okay, that made me spew my coffee!
 
Chakra is the combination of so many women I’ve met! As far as these women are concerned, when it comes to political correctness, they have to be ahead of the pack. It’s an interesting form of one-upsmanship, wouldn’t you say?
 
Here’s one example I ran into, when I ate vegan:
 
“So, you eat tofu? Well, guess what? The brand you buy is NOT GOOD ENOUGH because the soybeans it comes from are a bio-genetic abomination…”
 
 (????) 
 
Now, I can’t imagine how the Chakras of the world would know that, unless they were there when it was planted and picked. (Be prepared to hear from some of them after this is printed….)
Q: Which character do you identify with most?
 
A: Ha! That’s a hard one, since there’s a bit of me in all of these women (sadly, including Bettina, LOL!)
 
If I had to choose one, I’d say it’s Ally. I’m just as happy working as I am raising children. (I have two, a boy and a girl…but both FAR beyond the TOTLANDIA age…) Also, I love her sense of humor. 
 
Jillian is the part of me who sometimes doesn’t see the forest for the trees, metaphorically speaking. She tries so hard to have it all, but is that possible?  We all know the answer to that, but we love watching her find out the hard way.
 
Lorna is the vulnerable side of me. She presents a facade of having things under control, but in fact has those insecurities that hide beneath the thin skin each of us have, and is so easily pricked.
 
And Jade is the part in me that throws caution to the wind. When you’ve fallen greatly, there is nowhere to go but up, am I right? She puts it all out there because she’s got nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
 
Last but never least is Bettina. I never was the mean girl, the queen bee. I was too shy for that, and my mother had taught be to be gracious, even when confronted by bullies. But now, through her, I get to be bad! 
 
(Squeeeee! Lovin’ it!…oops! I guess I shouldn’t write that….)
Q: Have you been a part of a super-selective playgroup before? Do these groups really exist?
 
A: I think, in some sense, you find them everywhere. They are the cliques in which you hope you –oh yes, and your child — is invited to play with. Maybe you were asked once, but then you (or your child) said or did the wrong thing. Suddenly, these women are “too busy” to schedule you in…
 
Personally, my own negative play group experience happened  while my family and I lived in a wealthy neighborhood  populated with other pre-schoolers, most who had SAH mothers. I worked part-time, as did one other mother who happened to be a federal judge (LOL! You’d think they would have cut her some slack at least!) She and I, and our children, were ignored because we had au pairs for our kids during the hours we worked, which sometimes interfered with times for play dates. 
 
Once my son was invited to a country club pool party by one of the SAH moms. But because my daughter (who is two years younger, and a toddler at the time) wasn’t also invited, of course I had to stay home with her, so I dropped my son off, not realizing this was considered a no-no. Subsequently, payback came at my son’s party. All the other moms dropped off as opposed to hanging around, like they had done at the country club.
 
And yes, I’m glad we later moved to a place with less ‘unwritten rules.”
Q: Why do you think moms are so hard on other moms? Why can’t we just give each other a break?
 
A: Wonderful question! My guess is that, in so many ways, we project our parenting anxieties onto others. It’s easier to be judgmental than to (a) admit you may be doing something wrong, or (b) your child has an issue, which you aren’t yet ready to address.
 
Parenting is nothing we can formally train for. How could you? Each child is different, so it’s learn-as-we-go. That said, we judge ourselves harder than we judge our peers, just as we did as pre-teens and teens. 
 
But then there are those parents who take the offensive and publicly judge others. My guess is that they were their schools’ “mean girls.”  They learned in high school that, by setting the bar, you become judge and jury. And you’re ensuring no one is allowed to judge you, too.
 
As if! 
Q:  Have you had a real, groan-worthy experience with another mom that you’d care to share with Playdate Crashers readers?
 
My children attended a private school. Many of the students’ moms had transitioned from the board room to baby-on-board, but they still had the need to prove themselves. They were certainly tiger moms, and über moms, too! 
 
One day, my son’s “class mom” gave me the task of providing the set-up on the day we were to celebrate the class’s monthly birthdays. Sounds simple, right? Bring a birthday cake, some paper plates and plastic dining utensils, and a sheet for the table….
 
Wrong! Plain white paper plates? Forget about it! I hadn’t created a “theme” for the party! She let me know I’d let her down. (Note to self: next time, Venetian Carnivale or Cirque du Soleil!….um, not!)
 
Sadly, there are MANY Bettinas out there. Of course, none of them would recognize themselves in TOTLANDIA. 😉

Totlandia: The Onesies, Book 1 (Fall) is FREE for Kindle right now, for a limited time! Regular prices on Amazon.com are $0.99 for Book 1 and $3.99 for Book 2. I’ll be reading Book 3 (Spring, $3.99) next and we’ll have a giveaway for that one soon!

Pick up these books for your next road trip or for a weekend of playdate reading! Enjoy!

Disclosure:  I received Book One and Book Two of the Totlandia series free of charge to facilitate my review. I was not required to write a positive review. My opinions are my very own. Post contains affiliate links.

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About Krista

Krista is a full-time working mom of two boys, currently aged 6 and 7. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, Brandon.

Comments

  1. This sound like the perfect summer read!

  2. Looks like a great read. My kids are in a “selective” play group, meaning that a panel has to approve it’s members, but fairly easy to get into. Basically, I think the point is to make sure that all children will be safe at the applying parent’s house, etc., not so much a clique – though a few parents do treat it that way.

  3. Looks interesting!