Written by members of the actual Gilbreth family, Cheaper by the Dozen is a sweet, sincere look at an extraordinary American family in the early 1900s. The stories of the book revolve around Frank and Lillian Gilbreth and their twelve children. Living in such a large family, the kids sometimes struggle with feelings of isolation among their friends at school. They are, however, never lacking playmates and confidantes among their siblings. The Gilbreth parents are somewhat old-fashioned and try to raise their kids with a high commitment to excellence in all aspects of life.
This novel is a homage to a well-lived childhood, written from the perspective of the oldest daughter. She describes all the good and the bad of her younger years, giving her parents a lot of credit for the good. Throughout the course of the book, Anne describes her journey to independence and self-confidence, along which her wise parents were allies, even if she initially failed to recognize them as so. She credits her siblings with an abundance of life and cheer. Family was the central thread of her life, for which she writes gratefully.
Appealing to generations, Cheaper by the Dozen and its sequel Belles on their Toes have been beloved by families for decades. The sweet portrayal of the struggles of belonging to a family is easily relatable for people of all ages. A family can sit down to read the books, and each member will walk away with a sense of unity and relation, as if someone finally understands what they couldn't express before. Beyond all that, the these stories are entertaining and funny. They compose a respectful reminder of simple times, when love and family truly meant everything to people.