This is a memoir of Amy Dickinson's life and her extended family of strong women. Amy's husband decided to leave early in their marriage. Alone with a young baby she had to rearrange her life. She left their home in London and returned to her childhood home in Freeville, a small town of less than 500 people in rural upstate NY. She surrounded herself with her family which happened to largely consist of other single women. "Divorce runs through my clan like an aggressive chromosome" states Amy in the earliest chapters. Her father left her own family of her mother and her three siblings when she was a young girl. Fortunately she wasn't witness to her parents fighting. Since her father abandoned them there could be no fighting. He walked away from his family and a dairy farm loaded with debts. After they lost everything except the house to the bank and auctions, her mother found a job as a typist at the age of 42. She spent over 20 years of her life working the farm and caring for her family and now she was forced to find a career to support her children.
Amy also chose not to expose her own daughter to an ugly relationship between her parents. After attempts at counseling failed they met with a mediator to finalize arrangements and avoid the lawyers. They had both been raised by divorced parents and they were well aware of the things they didn't want their own child to experience. If they couldn't have a happy marriage they could at least have a good divorce. And although it was against her every instinct Amy decided to make the choice to forgive her husband. She needed to let him go instead of trying to keep him. Now as a single parent, she returns with her daughter to Freeville to stay at her sister's home and decide how to rebuild her life. She uses the time to grieve for her marriage, bond with her family and consider her options. Eventually she chooses to return to Washington D.C. where she had lived and worked before her marriage. As Amy begins her new life Freeville remains close to her heart. Eventually she and Emily decide to buy an old, run down house of their own there so they will always have a place to stay when they return "home".
Amy continues her story and tells of the years spent raising Emily the best way she knew how to, adding humor as she reveals her mistakes and triumphs. She learns and she goes on, always with the support of her daughter and her family. She also tells of her success as a writer and later as an advice columnist where she has been able to share her wisdom in "Ask Amy", a daily writing with over 22 million people. She was chosen by the Chicago Tribune to replace the late Ann Landers. Her story is inspirational, as are the other women in her family. They do what needs to be done in order to survive and raise their children but they also endure with grace and dignity. In honoring her family it makes the reader recall the mighty queens in their own life. This was a book I enjoyed very much. While it was a light, easy read it was also an honest portrayal of their past. I would love to hear more about these amazing women in Freeville.
I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book from Barnes & Noble. It will be released in February, 2009.
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