Reviews for Hold on, but don't hold still : hope and humor from my seriously flawed life

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An exhausted, stressed, loving mother shares her experiences.Making her book debut, vlogger Kuzmi, known by her viewers as "the mom who finds humor in every nook and cranny of motherhood while shoving brownies in her mouth and drinking coffee straight out of a coffeepot," offers hope and support to parents like herself: "wounded by our failures, hobbled by our insecurities." A decade ago, divorced with two young children, the author was struggling financially, working weekends as a waitress, when she decided to launch a cooking blog, Sticky Cook. Nine days after launch, she was invited to submit a video pitching her own TV show as part of a competition run by the Oprah Winfrey Network. To her amazement, she won, and although her show, The Ambush Cook, ran only one season, Oprah embraced her. "Once you've eaten hot dogs with Oprah," writes the author, "you expect your life to be different." Remarrying and having another child did make her life different: better in many ways and more complicated. But her TV experience inspired a new project: a parenting video that quickly went viral. Within days, it had over 1 million views. Besides writing about meeting her second husband, dealing respectfully with her ex, and raising children, Kuzmi recalls growing up in Croatia during the nation's War of Independence in 1991, learning to cook beside her beloved grandmother, immigrating to the United States, and suffering sexual assaults as a 5-year-old and as an adult. Mostly, she writes about motherhood, which she describes as "the most heart-filling part of my life, and it is also at times the most heartbreaking." A worrier who has struggled with depression and low self-esteem, Kuzmi tries to foster gratitude, self-confidence, and empathy in her children. With her self-absorbed teenage son, she embarked on a game: In two hours, they would complete three random acts of kindness. "The game," she writes, "is now on regular rotation in our family's activities" to remind them that each can make other people's lives better.A generous guide through the bumpy terrain of parenting. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kuzmic started her blog in 2020 as a passion project, but as she recounts in this engaging and funny memoir, she never thought it would grow into a career. Kuzmic burned out, tired, emerging from a difficult divorce hoped to have some fun, writing recipes and making videos for parents who could relate. Instead, she ended up on Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star and is now a successful vlogger, writer, and humorist. Kuzmic covers a lot of territory here, including her story of immigrating from war-torn Croatia to the U.S. as a teenager. As a parent in a blended family, she discusses the challenges of raising children with two husbands, emphasizing the importance of being kind even when it feels uncomfortable. She does not shy away from speaking truth, being open about needing food stamps, dealing with sexual assault, and surviving depression. Her candor is refreshing, a necessary voice amid the noise many parents face. Kuzmic writes with heart, and her authenticity will resonate with readers as they tag along on her journey.--Cari Dubiel Copyright 2020 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
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Blogger Kuzmic debuts with a moving and hilarious memoir focusing primarily on motherhood. Kuzmic immigrated to the United States as a teenager after fleeing war-torn Croatia, was a single mother to two young children, and, at one point, relied on food stamps to feed her family. A love of cooking led Kuzmic to open a makeshift soup kitchen, then to launch her blog Sticky Cook, and finally land her own television show, The Ambush Cook, on the OWN network. Winning Your Own Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star helped Kuzmic amass an audience, but she found her stride posting parenting videos online. Kuzmic writes that, in her videos and in her everyday life, she uses her lowest points as catalysts for change: battling poverty and depression taught her “the only way out is through,” the worry and guilt that come with motherhood inspired her to relinquish some control, and being the victim of “mom shaming” helped her set realistic expectations for herself as a parent. In her most affecting chapter, “I Didn’t Tell,” Kuzmic talks about the importance of finding one’s voice. Kuzmic’s tenacious and refreshingly candid memoir will appeal to any reader. Agent: Anna Sproul-Latimer, Ross Yoon Agency. (Feb.)