I picked up The Mighty Queens of Freeville for 3 reason... in order- #1, I fell in love with the cover, #2, Freeville is only 50 minutes from my house and we often drive through/by the town on our way to Ithaca, and #3, Amy Dickinson is the famous "Ask Amy".
The cover drew me in immediately. I loved the colors, the title, and the beautiful outdoor picnic setting. I liked that you didn't see the heads of these women and were able to make up your own picture of who they all are. Sitting in pretty skirts and dresses, in old school patio chairs, around a pretty table with a backdrop of luscious green grass is inviting. I like to do those things myself- especially the pretty skirt part.
I was drawn in by the title naming the town as Freeville. I live in Binghamton, NY and take frequent drives to Ithaca for music, arts, and great food. Freeville in just north of Dryden, the town that out lies Ithaca on our way in. I've driven through the very very very small town of Freeville before. I enjoy reading books with familiar places- I like knowing the places I'm reading about in a much more intimate way than just through my minds eye. Many of the places Amy visits and speaks of in this memoir are areas or places I know well. Some of the diners and roads are familiar to me, as well as the general landscape of the area.
Finally, after all this made me pick the book up, I turned it over to find out it was by Amy Dickinson of "Ask Amy". I don't regularly read her column, but I have before and I just think the idea of it is cool. Also, reading the back paints a picture of second chances and relationships between women.
I read the book sitting out in the sun the past few days. The Mighty Queens of Freeville truly is about second chances, missed opportunity, karma, love, loss, family, women, and the strength that keeps us going. The story chronicles Amy's life growing up in a small town raised by her mother and the other women in her family. Surrounded by the cushion of a small town and wrapped in the arms of strong women, Amy is able to have a successful life and begins her own mothering to her daughter Emily in London. However, my was unable to break the family curse of single motherhood. Left in shock and pain when her husband leaves her, Amy must decide what is best for her and her young daughter. She goes back to the place she knows best. Amy floats between Washington DC, Freeville, and Chicago throughout the book. She raises Emily to be a strong women like herself, surrounded with caring and compassionate women. Emily & Amy travel between Chicago and Freeville, as well as between Washington DC and Freeville quite often. Distance does not stop them from forming relationships with a beautiful circle of queens. Amy learns about love, loss, and life- and she learns that sometimes it is best to say "well, that just happened" and move forward. She also learns to move on and let go, in many forms. She has to move on from her cheating husband as well as let go of Emily and allow her to make her own choices. Amy readily admits that Emily was an easy child to raise, but that doesn't water down the fact that she still raised a daughter flying solo. Amy finds a way to balance family, work, and the pursuit of happiness quite well. Although it wasn't easy getting there, Amy is able to find it all.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a quite easy read, punctuated by humor and tears. It paints a picture of how dynamic of a women Amy Dickinson is and how she did it- by 'failing up' as she would say. It is inspiring to read... reminding me of the strength of women and of family bonds, especially the tie between mother and daughter. The only part I was not in love with was the general structure of the memoir. It did a lot of jumping around- years, relationships and events all jumble together as she flips from scenario to scenario in the book. Still, it is easy to follow.. just takes a bit of paying attention!
Amy gives advice in her column, but if you truly want some good life lessons learned- read this book.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow