Book Review and Giveaway: Mumentous

Original Photos and Mostly-True Stories about Football,
Glue Guns, Moms, and a Supersized High School Tradition
That Was Born Deep in the Heart of Texas
Amy J. Schultz
Nonfiction / Photo-Driven Memoir / Women’s History / Pop Culture / Texana
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Page Count: 178 pages
Publication Date: April 25, 2023
Scroll down for a giveaway!
The closest you’ll ever get to seeing someone actually wear their heart on their sleeve is in Texas, every fall, at the local high school homecoming game.
They’re called homecoming mums. They are as bodacious as football, as irresistible as a juicy rumor, and as deep as a momma’s love. Over a hundred years ago when the custom began, mum was short for chrysanthemum, a typical corsage that boys gave to girls before taking them to the big football game. But through the decades, mum went from a simple abbreviation to a complicated shorthand for an eye-popping tradition that’s as ingrained in the culture as it is confounding to outsiders.
Through her original photography and collection of stories from across and beyond the Lone Star State, Amy J. Schultz takes us deep in the heart of mum country. You’ll meet kids who wear them, parents who buy them, and critics who decry them as just another example of consumerism gone wild. But mostly, you’ll discover that just like every ritual which stands the test of time, someone is keeping the tradition alive. Someone like Mom.
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I’m not a native Texan. I grew up in Louisiana and headed off to Texas for college. The first time I saw a homecoming mum, I nearly dropped my teeth. (And this was in the mid-80s, before mums got supersized – the ribbons didn’t even touch the ground!) I could not wrap my brain around this major production, statement piece, whatever you wanted to call it. There was nothing like it in my experience, and honestly, I didn’t really want one!But in Mumentous, Amy J. Schultz gives us a marvelous look at the history of the mum, from its humble beginnings as an actual chrysanthemum corsage to the heavy-duty bedazzled versions of today that almost require scaffolding to hold them up. And her telling of that history is SO. MUCH. FUN!

I loved reading the mum stories that people shared with her. Some made me laugh, some made me tear up a little. And I had no idea that mum-making was such big business. It was fascinating to read about the detailed work and time and effort that goes into creating the perfect mum. Pretty sure if I tried to make a mum, it would suck, because I do not have that kind of creativity.

The pictures were a fantastic addition. From the small to the supersized, from a simple corsage to the Whatamum (that I now deeply regret not having the opportunity to see), they highlighted different aspects of the mum tradition and really made it pop for me.

So I didn’t grow up with the whole mum experience. After reading Mumentous, I kind of wish I had! It would be nice to be part of such a longstanding, joyous tradition. Whether you’ve known about mums your whole life or were raised somewhere outside of Texas like me, this is worth the read. It’s a well-written and well-researched look into a fascinating aspect of the high school and college experience that started – where else? – in Texas.

Five mums from me!

Scroll on down to enter the giveaway to win a copy of the book and your very own mum pin!

Amy J. Schultz is an author and award-winning photographer who explores unique aspects of modern culture that hide in plain sight. When she isn’t talking about homecoming mums, Amy is writing, taking photos, working on other creative projects, traveling, snort-laughing, or vacuuming up dog fur.

First Prize: signed hardback copy + enamel pin;
Second Prize: eBook + enamel pin
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 9/8/23)

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2 Responses to Book Review and Giveaway: Mumentous

  1. Hall Ways says:

    Love how even someone who didn’t personally experience the mum thing can enjoy the inside peek at this unique slice of Texana. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  2. You and I share that experience of first seeing a Texas homecoming mum as an adult. I liken it to staring into the sun…. you really want to see it in all its glory, but if you look too long, will it burn your retina? I think that’s what led me to look AROUND the mum. That’s where the story truly begins. – Amy J. Schultz, author, MUMENTOUS

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