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No Biking in the House Without a Helmet

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  1,513 ratings  ·  352 reviews
When the two-time National Book Award finalist Melissa Fay Greene confided to friends that she and her husband planned to adopt a four-year-old boy from Bulgaria to add to their four children at home, the news threatened to place her, she writes, “among the greats: the Kennedys, the McCaughey septuplets, the von Trapp family singers, and perhaps even Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev, ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Sarah Crichton Books (first published March 31st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Marjorie Ingall
Melissa Fay Greene is so freaking FUNNY -- and when she's writing about her family, rather than about Southern racism/a synagogue bombing/the Ethiopian orphan crisis, she can really let her comedy flag fly. (To be fair, there was humor in her "serious" books, and there's a lot of seriousness in this hilarious book.) She mocks herself constantly and she isn't sentimental -- two traits you need when you're writing about adopting five kids after having four bio ones. To nitpick, I did think the boo ...more
Joanne
This book is just plain joyful, and I loved it. I was only mildly interested in its topic of large families with international adoptees, and kind of expected it to be a different twist on what I think of as the typical parenting memoir: I had kids, they say funny things, I learned something about myself, I wouldn't trade my life for anything. It is that, but Greene is very very funny and a very very good writer. I could barely put the book down.

Greene had four biological children, and then got i
...more
Beckbunch
I have loved Melissa Fay Greene ever since "There is no Me Without You" and have followed her blog and have been impatiently waiting for her to write about her own family. I had to read and then re-read aloud to my husband and kids the chapters on the adoption of their four-year old son from Bulgaria. We had just come home from China with our newly adopted four year-old boy and although the names and countries are different, so many stories were exactly what we're dealing with right now. Exactly ...more
Danielle
I picked this one up from the Reader's Choice shelf at my library, and I was pretty much expecting a lot of laugh-track needy quips, like the title would suggest. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was an honest and fascinating memoir of adoptive parenting, with genuine (not forced) humor.
Greene is a great non-fiction writer. Her style is easy to read and enjoyable. I liked the way in which she mixed family anecdotes with her personal journey of international adoption and larger i
...more
Tamah
I have a strongly held personal rule that I only read parenting books written by people with five or more children – after an upsetting incident when I threw an insipid book across the room - a book written by a psychologist with two girls. So I was pleased to find this memoir written by a woman with 9 children – 4 biological and five adopted from Ethiopia and Bulgaria. Not that this was a parenting book, but Melissa Fay Greene humorously and without sparing her own inadequacies, tells the story ...more
Mary Jane
I was hoping for more on the challenges of this blended family (like conflicting personalities and discipline) but she didn't really address any of that until the book was almost over. I also thought it was interesting that she discussed how important it was for each child to retain their original culture (Ethiopian, Bulgarian) and they made trips back to Ethiopia and attempted to maintain contact with biological family members. But when it came to religion her adopted children were expected to ...more
Clare
I find myself justifying/ explaining our choice to adopt our middle daughter quite often. To us, it just made sense, according to who we were, but the real reason why Melissa Greene adopts is because she is suffering from MAJOR empty nest syndrome.

It's not a reason I understand, but that seemed to be her overriding concern.

This book is a rambling memoir of her trip through the adoption process, and while she has a few attachment struggles (which brought back some painful/sad memories for me), s
...more
Julie
To begin with a disclaimer, the author of this book is my first cousin, 1x removed. That said, I recall meeting her once when I was a child but haven't had much contact with them and have never met her children at all. I'd like to meet them and get to know them and that is one of the reasons I jumped on the opportunity to read this book through Amazon Vine.

No Biking in the House concerns the path one family took, pursuing multiple international adoptions as their children grew up and moved out
...more
Rachel N
It is with great regret that I only give Melissa Fay Greene's new book only two stars. Fifty percent of it would receive 5 stars, but the rest was so disappointing.

The five star material includes her stellar descriptions of the adoption process for each child - the emotions involved with adoption and the humorous moments (I laughed out loud many times). I was also really moved by the one son who spent a lot of time in Ethiopia and devoted many months to just playing with the kids in various orp
...more
Amanda
While the book dragged in a few places (some chapters felt unnecessary or redundant), I really enjoyed the extended peek into this blended family. I learned quite a bit about adoption. I also really respected this couple's parenting of all their children. They set high expectations, but didn't hover. They swore, laughed off things like broken lamps or windows, empathized with the loss of a rodent-like pet, etc. They seemed fairly laid back, in general, and their kids turned out to be respectful, ...more
Holly
I loved this book for the joy it gave me. It wasn't the first time I picked it up. I had read bits of it in magazines, and started it at least once without finishing. I think the difference was that this time I got as far as the Ethiopian adoptions and then I was truly captivated. Living in Ethiopia for 4 1/2 years, our family met and hosted several American and Canadian families who had come to adopt. I always had mixed feelings about it, worrying about the suffering of the families who gave up ...more
Michelle
I liked this, it's light without being fluffy, sweet without the saccharine after-taste and humourous.

Melissa Fay Greene is a non-fiction journalist of repute, but this is more of a personal story of how and she and her family adopted 5 children from overseas. The beginning of the book is slower and more sombre, as she researches intercountry adoption and discusses the terrible effects of post-institutionalism on children. Anyone my age (40s) must surely remember the opening of those wicked wic
...more
Mary Etta
June book group selection.

There were many reasons to like the book. The first several chapters were laugh-out-loud funny. Then the mood changed greatly as the author and her husband began searching for a child to adopt, and then another and more from various third-world countries. Melissa Greene also introduces other families who have also adopted as they have. She writes well and with sensitivity and honesty of her family's experiences in their expansion.

Page 131, she gives a very interesting
...more
Elisabeth
I won a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

I'm the oldest of 10 children in an adoptive, mixed-race family. Greene has 4 birth children and 5 adopted children, and this memoir details how her family came together and the adoption stories of each child, along with stories of daily life in her family. Obviously this was deeply personal for me so it was wonderful to read such a familiar story that very few people understand. However, the book was also very well-written, engaging and fu
...more
Emily
Why I picked it up: My friend Snow read it a while ago and it sounded interesting. Plus I always like reading about big families and non-traditional families.

As their 4 biological children get older and start leaving for college, Melissa and her husband Donny start adopting children from outside the U.S. In total, they adopt 5 children, giving them a total of 9 children.

I enjoyed it. It wasn’t quite as linear as I would have liked, but that’s really my only complaint. (The adoptions of the kids
...more
Julie
As an adoptive mom and an adoption social worker, I liked this book a lot. Greene writes of her experience adopting older children from other countries/cultures. While it is generally upbeat (and totally skips over the negative aspects of transracial adoptions), Greene does a good job of portraying her personal struggles with adapting to bringing these children into her home. It is not at all uncommon for parents to experience "post-adoption depression," especially when adopting an older child w ...more
Jess
I didn't know if I would like this book. At the beginning things were too cheery, too wonderful, too surfacey. But as the book continues, the author lets us into her deeper darker feelings about adopting--ethical quandaries, and post-adoption depression, questions about whether her family is adjusting. She also gives some insight into what it is like to be a real parent, a good parent, and a spouse and a person with a life and a job she cares about. I'm not yet finished but I find that her journ ...more
Amy
Depending on which part I was reading at the time, I found this book hilarious; inspiring; sad; heartwarming - you name it. I am impressed at the way that Greene was able to select just the right parts to condense years of family and adoptive experiences into one book (clearly her family could provide material for numerous books ;-)
Although the reader's own experience (or lack of experience) with large families and/or the international adoption process would provide very different frameworks fo
...more
Liralen
A few things that stood out for me here:

First, I had almost no trouble keeping track of who was who. That's hard, when you're writing about nine kids and two adults (and various friends and relatives and acquaintances). It helps, of course, that the characters are gradually introduced; the story is chronological, charting Greene's forays first into biological parenthood and then, tentatively, into adoption. Also interesting to see how differently the kids adapted, depending largely, it would app
...more
Teresacooks
I just loved this story. It was honest and told with love ( that's no euphemism for poorly written either).
Anna
I don't read much non-fiction, but the book club selected this, so I grudgingly picked it up. I thought at first I would never keep all the children's names straight. Four bio children and five adoptees from other countries. Following the adoptions and the meshing of the new children into the Jewish-American Atlanta family was very interesting. (Who knew there were Ethiopians and Jews in Atlanta?!) I loved this family, especially the author and Lee. What an amazing son. By the end of the book, I ...more
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Fascinating story of a family adopting five orphans from overseas...buried inside a dull-to-the-point-of-nausea story of an author's self doubts, family tales, and pets. I think it was the pets that finally did me in. Her self doubts prior to the first adoption and her depression that followed it seemed to be an important part of the story. She was trying to be honest with us, the readers, so it was interesting in spite of her bludgeonish writing style. Someone must have told her, why tell somet ...more
SwensonBooks
I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Faye Greene at the Austin Jewish Book Fair in November. She was there to sign No Biking in the House Without a Helmet (Sarah Crichton Books, 2011)and to provide the opening address. No Biking is a memoir chronicling how she and her family of six (mom, dad, four kids) adopted five orphans from overseas—one Bulgarian-Romani and four Ethiopian—over a period of eight years.

Gotta love this woman, gotta read her book. Smart, witty, warm—in person and in print. Gr
...more
Marisa
Melissa Fay Greene is an excellent writer who skillfully combines her personal experiences parenting her children with real journalism skills in this story of how she and her husband decided to become a family of 11. They loved parenting their 4 biological children so much, she writes, that "when the clock started to run down on the home team, we brought in ringers." It's a great metaphor, and fitting for their attitude about parenting such a large diverse family. One thing that made me love thi ...more
Lisa
I loved "There's No Me Without You", I read it while we were waiting for our Ethiopian daughter's adoption to go through. It was a powerful testament to human love, and the devastation of AIDS in that country.

This book is hilarious. And anyone who is a parent, adopted or otherwise, would love this one! Melissa has a very unique and totally honest way of looking at parenting that had me going, "Yup! OMG, yup!!! LOL!"

The parts where she details her various children meeting birth parents was very
...more
Josh
When Borders Bookstore was closing its doors about 3 years ago, my store was discounting everything that remainded in the store. I came across this title, read the description and was intrigued. I thought, "For $5, why not?" I was already in the middle of another book and moved on to other titles, so this book sat on my shelf for awhile. I wasn't ready for it, I guess, but a couple of weeks ago, I finally decided that this was the book I was going to read. I'm so glad that I made that decision a ...more
Diane
At some point parents are faced with the prospect of the "empty nest syndrome". Some parents deal with it by moving to a big city (like my husband and I did- don't worry though, we told the kids and gave them our new address), some take up new hobbies, and Melissa Fay Greene and her husband met the challenge by adopting children from Bulgaria and Ethiopia, as told in No Biking in the House Without a Helmet.

The Samuels (Don is a criminal defense attorney, Melissa a writer) had four children, and
...more
Heidi
I loved this book. Melissa and her husband had four children of their own and then, for a variety of reasons (unique to each child) decided to adopt five more children: a Romany boy from Bulgaria and four children from Ethiopia. With honesty and candor, Melissa talks about her family's reasons for adopting each child, the trials each child brought to the family, and above all, the joy that came with each child.

Most of the book had me laughing--hard. Melissa has a way of phrasing things that can
...more
Tricia
Great personal account of a mom of four biological children and five adopted children (one from Bulgaria and four from Ethiopia). I very much appreciated the honesty about the author's struggles with post-adoption depression and bumps in the road toward functioning as a family rather than a "group home." The author gives a wonderful glimpse into each of her children's personalities and their interactions with each other. Good food for thought when adding to a family. Many of the stories were gen ...more
Abby
I tore through "There's No Me Without You" and read this one almost as quickly. I love Melissa Fay Greene's writing and after finishing the first book, I found myself wondering more about her family. This book gave me exactly what I wanted. I gave it four stars because it wasn't quite the book that TNMWY was, but I still loved it.

Quite a few things resonated with me:
- As a resident of the same part of Atlanta, I loved reading references to my stomping grounds and it made me love my city more.
-
...more
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Melissa Greene has been a contributor to NPR, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, LIFE, Good Housekeeping, Newsweek, The Atlantic, Readers Digest, Ms., The Wilson Quarterly, Redbook, and Salon.com. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Don Samuel, a criminal defense attorney. They have been married for 28 years and are the parents of nine children: Molly, Seth, Lee, Lily, Jesse (adopted ...more
More about Melissa Fay Greene...
There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children Praying for Sheetrock: A Work of Nonfiction Last Man Out: The Story of the Springhill Mine Disaster The Temple Bombing Orphaned: One woman's mission to save Africa's AIDS children

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