by Amy J. Schultz
Genre: Nonfiction / Regional – Texas
Print Length: 178 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Reviewed by Jadidsa Perez
An ode to homecoming mums, Mumentous is an impactful story about a beautiful tradition.
Amy J. Schultz’s Mumentous is a book that covers the long-standing, regional tradition of giving mums to a date for homecoming, something that can include intrinsic amalgamations of ribbon, centerpieces, bells, and other decor.
Schultz covers both personal and community, vintage and contemporary. It unravels the history of the mum along with mum entrepreneurs and anti-mum enthusiasts. With inclusions of pictures and anecdotes, Mumentous tells a story not just about the traditions of mums, but the way they have been reconstructed in present-day.
The book is in a non-chronological format. Some stories are related, while others stand on their own and transport the reader into a world probably different from their own. Through polished and skillful writing, the author immerses in the mum world for a moment, like attending a homecoming game. There’s a sense of excitement here as the reader anticipates each new story that will come.
“Anchored in the past and fed by expectation, a tradition flows most deeply in places with the fewest obstacles to it. Ultimately, those that survive allow themselves to be contoured by the times rather than dammed by them.”
Schultz raises so many fascinating points regarding not just mums, but the larger societal zeitgeist. The link between post-war patriotism and the cultural shift toward sporting events is particularly enlightening. There are also entire sections about women who have made turning mums into their business, supporting their families through custom mums. There is no bell, ribbon, or whistle that Schultz does not uncover about the mum and the immense effort is apparent.
There are some standout chapters here. Those that center around the mum controversy and the philanthropic spirit behind it might shine more than those mostly about older traditions. The chapters focused on older generations tend to revolve around similar topics, such as fresh versus artificial flowers, whereas the newer generation chapters cover more diverse topics.
“This is the difference that matters. A mom not only makes things her kids need—such as a costume for the school play or a mum for her son to give to his date—but she makes things with love.”
The pictures that are incorporated into the narrative lead to the best chapter of the book, aptly named “Mumentous.”The reader gets to understand the intention and the love that goes into this book—the same love that goes into crafting a custom mum. This chapter is longer but dynamic, and it feels like an excellent exit to the world that Schultz displays.
I would gladly recommend Mumentous for those looking for an impactful, niche read about a beautiful Texas tradition.
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