I was so excited to get a review copy of Amy Dickinson's memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville through MotherTalk's blog tour. For a few reasons:
1. Because I'm an avid reader of Dickinson's advice column, Ask Amy. Pretty much I'm an avid reader of any advice column (hey, I don't like celebrity gossip, okay? I'm allowed one trashy reading habit). But Ask Amy is my favorite--and it comes out every day!
2. Because her book is about being from a small town (Freeville, pop 458). I'm not from a small town, but both my parents are (Paw Paw, pop approx 5000 and Climax, pop approx 500. I know. Climax, hardy har har.) Plus my husband grew up in a smallish town (Ojai, pop 8000). I grew up hearing about how great/stifling/connected/close/maddening small town life was, and I harbor secret fantasies of becoming a small-town girl.
3. Because I got a free book! Pretty! Exciting! Hardcover!
Dickinson's memoir covers her experience after her husband left her. She struggles as a single mom to find her way through raising her child, finding work and dating. Through it all, Freeville--and the many family members that live there--serve as her anchor, her sounding board, and her safety net.
What I liked most about Amy's book was her portrayal of the complicated figures in her life--her ex, her dead-beat dad. She never loses compassion for these flawed figures, even while being honest about how their absences affected her.
Dickinson's story resonated most for me at the beginning and end of the book. Her marriage implodes as the book opens, and I found myself gripped by her predicament and her reaction to it. Likewise, as her daughter leaves for college, and the matriarchs of her family get older, she finds herself being a caretaker all over again--and finding love in the midst of her hometown return.
Finally, I was inspired by Dickinson's career path--she managed to find work as a single mom, and made real sacrifices with career opportunities to make sure she was there for her daughter. Seeing women survive--and blossom in adversity is the best takeaway of the memoir.
So, yes. I liked the book. Go hitch yourself a ride to Freeville, and see where all Amy's advice comes from.