Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Review: The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Story of Surprising Second Chances by Amy Dickinson

I have thoroughly enjoyed Amy Dickinson for years on NPR's "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" and I do read her advice column, so I've had my eye on her memoir since it came out, and it was a lovely little diversion.

The book is pitched as how, after Amy's divorce, her hometown of Freeville, NY helped her recover and helped her raise her daughter. I think that's not quite right. Yes, Amy and Emily frequently go to Freeville for the summer, especially after Amy buys a tiny house there, very near the rest of her family, but it's really about how Amy herself gets over the trauma and gets on with her life and bringing up Emily. And that's nothing to dismiss. Yes, Amy has a lot of familial support, and yes, she would have had a very rough time without them to lean on, but I always feel that Amy is strong enough that she could have gone it on her own if she had to. She's very much a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of gal. In fact, I think Amy doesn't give herself enough credit.

Not only does she manage to move overseas sans husband, with a baby and without a job, she then relocates to D.C. and gets by until she gets a great job. She talks about "failing up," such as when she was offered a great job and turned it down - and then they turned around and offered her an even better job. I don't see that as that she failed at something and then lucked into an even better thing - I think she showed that she had a backbone, that she had values (the first job didn't suit her needs with her daughter), and that she had worth. And I think that's why the got the better job, because she showed that she deserved it, not because she failed and then had good luck. That is self-deprecating to a point where it's turning a positive into a negative, which makes me a little sad. Amy's always very nice and kind, and I think she gives others perhaps too much credit, and herself not too much. Which likely is one reason so many people like her.

The book is charming, Emily is adorable and turns out well, Amy's family is wonderfully supportive, and her father adds some quirk and meeting him helps explain a bit about her upbringing (boy, were her parents an odd match! I wish she'd explain how they got together.) It's uplifting, positive, and was a fun read.

I bought this at a Borders GOOB sale.


The Book Chick said...

I haven't read a memoir in a while, although I do enjoy them, but this one certainly catches my attention!

Jen said...

I had been wondering how this one was, since I also read her column. Maybe I'll grab it now! :)