The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson is a sweet memoir of Dickinson’s life growing up, and her life as a parent to daughter Emily, in a small town in upstate New York.
Full of humor and common sense, the book is about Amy’s life surrounded by an extended family of mostly women- mother, sisters, cousins, and aunts. Divorce is a common bond in her family but there is no self pity here. Amy comes from strong female stock.
Amy is the author of the syndicated advice column, Ask Amy, and while she never claims to know all the answers, she certainly knows where to get them- at home, from people who love you. Amy left tiny Freeville to go to college and get married, moving to London with her husband and starting a family. But when the marriage fell apart, she and her baby daughter come home to start over. She leaves again to make a life on her own and start a career in Washington, DC, but frequent trips back home and a flexible schedule allow her to buy a small house on Main Street and spend summers in Freeville surrounded by the family, friends, and neighbors she grew up with. This sense of community is a rare and wonderful thing in our highly mobile society, and it gives the book a nostalgic feel.
Chapters are by subject rather than chronological. There is a chapter called Livestock in the Kitchen: The Many Uses of Cats about the animals that have populated their lives. The Apex of Dorkitude: Dork, Like Me is about the dorky qualities Amy and her daughter share. The Marrying Man is about Amy’s much married father. Tea Alone: On Mothering without a Net is about single parenthood, which can be boiled down to this quote from page 40:
“Single parenthood is hard, but it’s simple too.
You just do everything yourself.”
Again- no pity party. She’s just stating a fact.
I enjoyed this book and think it could make a great gift for any mother, but especially one who’s doing it alone and maybe resisting the support of family and friends. Sometimes it’s good to swallow your pride and accept what’s being offered. Going home might seem like a step backwards, but families can prop us up, make us stronger, and help us grow and mature.
Filed under: Book Reviews, books, Family, kids, Life, parenting, reading Tagged: | advice columnist, amy dickinson, ask amy, Book Reviews, books, Family, memoirs, reading, strong women, the mighty queens of freeville