Fifty-two guests take turns filling a military father's chair at his family's dinner table while he serves his yearlong deployment.
The week before Thanksgiving 2011, Dustin Smiley left for a yearlong military deployment. Soon after, his son Ford, eleven, invited Senator Susan Collins to fill his dad's chair at dinner. On January 3, 2012, Senator Collins came to dinner ... and brought brownies.
So began "Dinner with the Smileys," nationally syndicated columnist Sarah Smiley's fifty-two-week commitment to fill her husband's place at the family dinner table with interesting people--from schoolteachers to Olympians, professional athletes to famous authors, comedians to politicians--and unique role models for her three sons, even as she knows Dustin's seat cannot truly be "filled" until he is home again for the fifty-third dinner.
Why dinner? Because dinnertime is often the loneliest time for people living alone. If houses and apartments were like dollhouses with one side totally exposed, Sarah says, we'd see plenty of people eating alone to the glow of a television.
That was the fate Sarah feared for herself and her children during Dustin's absence. So she opened her home, and she and the kids sent invitations. And they found that a surprising number of people really are available for dinner. You just have to ask.
In a time when popular culture leads us to believe that the family dinner table is dead, "Dinner with the Smileys" shows people that time spent with family, friends, and neighbors is still very much part of the American lifestyle.
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Navy wife and columnist Sarah Smiley is the author of a syndicated newspaper column that is published in cities across the country, the memoir Going Overboard: The Misadventures of a Military Wife (Penguin/New American Library, 2005) and a collection of essays titled I'm Just Saying... (Ballinger, 2008). Described as an "Erma Bombeck for the military-wife set" by Publishers Weekly, Sarah is known as a trailblazer for military-spouse books, columns and other publications. Sarah has been a Navy dependent for more than 36 years, first as the daughter of Rear Admiral Lindell Rutherford (USN, Ret.), and now as the wife of Lt. Cmdr. Dustin Smiley, a Navy pilot. She has a B.S. in Education from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and M.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Maine.Review:
"Uplifting" - Oprah's O Magazine
"A delicious diversion...Sarah Smiley is all heart...Many people will see her as a hero for being so frank" - USA Today
"A meal-time revolution" - The Today Show
"[DINNER WITH THE SMILEYS] will make you a better person for reading it...By the close, you'll be begging for seconds."- SheKnows.com
"Classic Sarah: forthright and honest, funny and smart." - The New York Times
"A rare, unvarnished glimpse into the life of an American family...a compassionate account of absolutely inspired by-the-seat-of-the-pants parenting." - Cynthia Kaplan, author of Why I'm Like This
"Sarah Smiley writes in such a very intimate and frank style that the reader feels like a fly on the wall...Her humor is quiet and wry, and at times she is painfully honest." - BookReporter.com
"It is both a joy and an inspiration...If you ever doubted the basic goodness of Americans, this book will restore your faith." - Sue Halpern, author of A DOG WALKS INTO A NURSING HOME
"[The] stories range from heartbreaking to hilarious." - Maine Magazine
"Dinner with the Smileys will make you laugh and cry...Sarah Smiley's engaging writing both entertains and educates." - U.S. Senator Susan Collins
- One of Oprah's five "Things to Smile About"
- Number 9 on USA Today's list of Books to Read in May
- GoodHousekeeping New Book Pick
Praise for Smiley:
"...often funny and always humane, an unexpected voice" - New York Times Magazine
"...an Erma Bombeck...[Smiley's] prose is simple and straightforward, and her humor is clever." - Publishers Weekly
"You can't help but be moved" - Carol Leifer, writer for Seinfeld
"Smiley has the knack of turning the ordinary, and not-so-ordinary travails into an absorbing narrative." - Frank Cerabino, Palm Beach Post
"Endearing and descriptive writing that brings both laughs and tears." - The Bradenton Herald
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Book Description Thorndike Press, 2013. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111410463680