"The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio - How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less" by Terry Ryan
I first became aware of this book by accidentally coming across the movie of the same name, starring Julieanne Moore, on a Saturday afternoon about a month ago. The movie so touched me that I knew I had to read the book that inspired it. Just like the movie this book touched me and did not disappoint. Terry Ryan writes of her family and mother during the '50's and early '60's when contesting was an American phenomenon. What was amazing about this book was how she wrote of her mother's love of prose and words and how she turned that love into a way of providing for her struggling family in the midst of an exceptionally hard life. Terry's father was an alcholic who was verbally and sometimes physically abusive and drank away all monies to provide for his family. What is so exceptional about this book was that Ms. Ryan did not dwell on the horrendous parts of an alcoholic's life. She tells just enough to let the reader in on how hard their life was but what she focuses on is the indomitable spirit of her mother who through a time where it was very difficult for a woman, especially one with 10 children, to leave an abusive husband and find any support, found a way to make things work with a cheerful spirit. There were no shelters and in that time women were looked at as the ones in the wrong if they left. Evelyn Ryan kept a positive attitude for her children, showing them that there are ways to find success even in the midst of hardship. Evelyn provided for her family using what talent she had, which was putting words together, and winning a myriad of contests, some just in the nick of time. She won everything from toasters, to sports equipment to cars and kept her family afloat. I laughed, I cried, it made me think and it made me desire to have a spirit of humility and determination in making the most of hard times like Evelyn did.
Click here to read a small excerpt of this wonderful story.
This book review is linked to Semicolon Saturday Review of Books.