Friday, March 6, 2009

Review: The Mighty Queens of Freeville

Summary: Millions of Americans know and love Amy Dickinson from reading her syndicated advice column “Ask Amy” and from hearing her wit and wisdom weekly on National Public Radio. Amy’s audience loves her for her honesty, her small-town values, and the fact that her motto is “I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.” In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson shares those mistakes and her remarkable story. This is the tale of Amy and her daughter and the people who helped raise them after Amy found herself a reluctant single parent.

Though divorce runs through her family like an aggressive chromosome, the women in her life taught her what family is about. They helped her to pick up the pieces when her life fell apart and to reassemble them into something new. It is a story of frequent failures and surprising successes, as Amy starts and loses careers, bumbles through blind dates and adult education classes, travels across the country with her daughter and their giant tabby cat, and tries to come to terms with the family’s aptitude for “dorkitude.”

They have lived in London, D.C., and Chicago, but all roads lead them back to Amy’s hometown of Freeville (pop. 458), a tiny village where Amy’s family has tilled and cultivated the land, tended chickens and Holsteins, and built houses and backyard sheds for more than 200 years. Most important, though, her family members all still live within a ten-house radius of each other. With kindness and razor-sharp wit, they welcome Amy and her daughter back weekend after weekend, summer after summer, offering a moving testament to the many women who have led small lives of great consequence in a tiny place. -- Hyperion

THE MIGHTY QUEENS OF FREEVILLE: A MOTHER, A DAUGHTER, AND THE PEOPLE WHO RAISED THEM by Amy Dickinson is sure getting a lot of attention. I've seen so many great reviews of this book, and I'm glad that I can now say that I've read it. I found this memoir to be extremely readable, and I instantly felt an affinity with Ms. Dickinson and her story. It's kind of hard for me to explain why since I really don't have anything major in common with Ms. Dickinson, it's just that her story is so real. I think that's the beauty of this book -- it is about normal people and every reader will relate to parts of Ms. Dickinson's life.

I can't say that I pick a lot of memoirs (I usually stick with fiction), but I find that I really enjoy them when I do. For some reason, I guess I like getting glimpses into other people's lives! While I have enjoyed many of the recent best-selling memoirs, so many of them are filled with stories about horrific childhoods and other shocking tales. I found THE MIGHTY QUEENS OF FREEVILLE to be such a refreshing change. This book didn't cause my jaw to drop, but rather it was a heart-warming story about a single mother and her daughter and how they managed to live their lives despite being thrown a few curves along the way.

I loved getting to know Ms. Dickinson and her daughter and watching them adapt to all the changes in their lives. I especially enjoyed those parts of the book where they returned to Freeville. I loved how her story showed the importance of family in our lives and how family can help us get through even the most difficult situations. In addition, I thought this book definitely featured the importance of women in society and how incredibly strong women are. I not only fell in love with Ms. Dickinson and her daughter, but I also enjoyed "meeting" all of their female relatives back in Freeville.

I found this book to be so enjoyable on so many levels. Ms. Dickinson has the unique knack of telling her story where it seems as if she is talking to me and me alone -- I feel as if I know her. My heart went out to her and her daughter many times as they faced challenges, and I found myself rooting for them. I did find this book very touching, especially the chapters about her divorce and her cat. However, I also found myself laughing out loud many times. The chapter where Ms. Dickinson describes her dating experiences and the chapter about "dorkiness" were hilarious. This book is filled with so much wisdom and will just make you feel good about life!

One thing I really enjoyed about the memoir was how the author decided to tell her story. Rather than writing the book in chronological order, each chapter covered a specific theme in Ms. Dickinson's life. I loved following each story from beginning to end, I thought that each chapter read as if they were separate essays. I especially appreciated the chapter entitled "The Marrying Man" which explained the strained relationship between the author and her father.

I highly recommend THE MIGHTY QUEENS OF FREEVILLE! It's just a feel-good book that celebrates women! I think it would make the perfect gift for any special woman in your life!

A big thanks to Hyperion Books and MotherTalk for allowing me to participate in this book tour!


Anna said...

Glad you enjoyed the book. It's nice when you can relate to someone even when you don't have a lot in common. Not sure if I'd want to read this book, as I don't read many memoirs, but it does sound interesting.

Diary of an Eccentric

bermudaonion said...

I enjoyed this book, too. It won't go on my list of favorite books, but it made me feel good when I read it. I think Amy Dickinson is a great storyteller.

Beth F said...

Sounds interesting. I like memoirs.

Ti said...

What I like about your reviews is that I can always hear your "voice" coming through. That is why I much prefer blog reviews over what I see over at Barnes and Amazon. Thank you.

S. Krishna said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much! I thought it was good as well. You're definitely right that it's very readable, I usually have a lot more trouble with non-fiction than I did with this book.

Sandra said...

Another well written review. I'm stealing your link to add to my review page here: