The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them by Amy Dickinson | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them

The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them

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by Amy Dickinson
     
 

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Millions of Americans know and love Amy Dickinson from reading her syndicated advice column "Ask Amy" and from hearing her wit and wisdom weekly on National Public Radio. Amy's audience loves her for her honesty, her small-town values, and the fact that her motto is "I make the mistakes so you don't have to." In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson

Overview

Millions of Americans know and love Amy Dickinson from reading her syndicated advice column "Ask Amy" and from hearing her wit and wisdom weekly on National Public Radio. Amy's audience loves her for her honesty, her small-town values, and the fact that her motto is "I make the mistakes so you don't have to." In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson shares those mistakes and her remarkable story. This is the tale of Amy and her daughter and the people who helped raise them after Amy found herself a reluctant single parent.

Though divorce runs through her family like an aggressive chromosome, the women in her life taught her what family is about. They helped her to pick up the pieces when her life fell apart and to reassemble them into something new. It is a story of frequent failures and surprising successes, as Amy starts and loses careers, bumbles through blind dates and adult education classes, travels across the country with her daughter and their giant tabby cat, and tries to come to terms with the family's aptitude for "dorkitude."

They have lived in London, D.C., and Chicago, but all roads lead them back to Amy's hometown of Freeville (pop. 458), a tiny village where Amy's family has tilled and cultivated the land, tended chickens and Holsteins, and built houses and backyard sheds for more than 200 years. Most important, though, her family members all still live within a ten-house radius of each other. With kindness and razor-sharp wit, they welcome Amy and her daughter back weekend after weekend, summer after summer, offering a moving testament to the many women who have led small lives of great consequence in a tiny place.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

"I didn't become an advice columnist on purpose," writes Dickinson (author of the syndicated column "Ask Amy") in her chapter titled "Failing Up." In the summertime of 2002, after spending months living off of her credit cards between freelance writing jobs, Dickinson sent in an audition column to the Chicago Tribune and became the paper's replacement for the late Ann Landers. Here, Dickinson traces her own personal history, as well as the history of her mother's family whose members make up the "Mighty Queens" of Freeville, N.Y., the small town where Dickinson was raised, and where she raised her own daughter between stints in London; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago. Dickinson writes with an honesty that is at once folksy and intelligent, and brings to life all of the struggles of raising a child (Dickinson was a single mother) and the challenges and rewards of having a supportive extended family. "I'm surrounded by people who are not impressed with me," Dickinson humorously laments. "They don't care that my syndicated column has twenty-two million readers." Dickinson's irresistible memoir reads like a letter from an upbeat best friend. (Feb.)

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Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Amy Dickinson, the "Ask Amy" syndicated advice columnist, serves up a sustaining slice of life in this warm-hearted memoir about her small-town roots. Through divorce, single motherhood and a variety of jobs, Amy knows she can count on her family of largely women, the so-called "Mighty Queens," for love, support and common sense. And so though she may live in London, Washington, DC, or Chicago, she keeps heading home to Freeville, New York (population: 458) with her growing daughter for long weekends, holidays and summers. Amy reflects on her life with wit and good humor and shares with the reader much of the good advice she has received from others. My favorite tidbit comes from her work as a nursery school teacher when toddlers taught her "to be in the moment, to play with abandon, to nap when you need to, and to preserve your friendships by saying ‘I'm sorry' when necessary." Amy is quick to give thanks throughout for the strong, kind women in her life. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
Kirkus Reviews
In a gutsy debut memoir about family, resolve and the secret of survival, farm girl turned advice columnist Dickinson plows to the root of her down-to-earth American know-how. The straight-shooting successor to Ann Landers, Dickinson's previous claims to fame include the community auction of household possessions to square a debt accrued by her absent father, teaching Sunday school, harboring Holsteins and mastering single motherhood. In the late 1980s, Dickinson's adulterous, soon-to-be-ex-husband walked out on her, and she recoiled to her banal hometown of Freeville, N.Y., with toddler daughter Emily. Dejected, fond of therapeutic cigarette smoking in the tub, she was steadily buttressed by patient pillars of female kin and finally traded the bathroom for a fresh start in Washington, D.C. Like a quarterback reacting to a testy defensive line, she called snap plays for first dates, odd jobs, solo parenting, disastrous home repairs and pet surgery. Hectic yet reflective, Dickinson's mind constantly searched for life lessons in her mistakes while pondering how to present these aberrations as worldly insights to her daughter-a thought process which now endears 22 million readers daily to her column, "Ask Amy." Real-life situations were forever testing her, from damage control after a high-school choir accident to the humiliating Laura Ingalls Wilder Halloween costume. Regardless, Dickinson's crisis-filled playbook had two constants: candor and Freeville coaching. No fumble was without its rewards according to Freeville women, portrayed here as resilient blends of Marmee March and Calamity Jane. An unabashed, self-pity-free, landmine-filled love letter to a rocky past, credited for theauthor's current success and happiness. Author tour to Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, Ohio, New Orleans, New York, Raleigh, N.C., San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, D.C. Agent: Elyse Cheney/Elyse Cheney Literary Associates
Adriana Trigiani
"Common sense, a practical nature, and a searing sense of social justice are the hallmarks of Amy Dickinson's advice column. Now, in a delicious and hilarious memoir, Amy gives us her worldview via Main Street with wit and originality, through her own bejeweled binoculars. The view is never, for a moment, self-indulgent. She's a wise and fair queen for sure. Long Live Amy!"
Laura Zigman
"The Mighty Queens of Freeville is great American storytelling at its best. A tale of promise postponed and scrappy survival, Amy Dickinson's glorious triumphs are like rabbits pulled out of a hat, one after another after another. Full of hope and humor and big simple truths, it is a story told with grace and without a trace of cynicism. This is a book you will love and one you will be truly sad to finish."
Noah Adams
"Reading Amy's book in bed. Wife to me: 'Is it good?' Me to wife: 'Sure, but what do I care, I'm a guy' Wife to me: 'Then why are you crying?'"
Peter Sagal
"In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson shares her life story about love and loss, parents, daughters, aunts, fathers, pets, and life from the mundane to the ridiculous to the quietly heartbreaking. Or, sometimes loudly heartbreaking, with great big honking sobs. Amy doesn't have all the answers, but she suggests a good place to find them: at home, with the people who love you."
From the Publisher
"The Mighty Queens of Freeville is great American storytelling at its best. A tale of promise postponed and scrappy survival, Amy Dickinson's glorious triumphs are like rabbits pulled out of a hat, one after another after another. Full of hope and humor and big simple truths, it is a story told with grace and without a trace of cynicism. This is a book you will love and one you will be truly sad to finish."—Laura Zigman, author of Animal Husbandry"

Reading Amy's book in bed. Wife to me: 'Is it good?' Me to wife: 'Sure, but what do I care, I'm a guy' Wife to me: 'Then why are you crying?'"—Noah Adams, author of Piano Lessons"

In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson shares her life story about love and loss, parents, daughters, aunts, fathers, pets, and life from the mundane to the ridiculous to the quietly heartbreaking. Or, sometimes loudly heartbreaking, with great big honking sobs. Amy doesn't have all the answers, but she suggests a good place to find them: at home, with the people who love you."—Peter Sagal, host of NPR's "Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!" and author of The Book of Vice: Naughty Things (and How to Do Them)"

Common sense, a practical nature, and a searing sense of social justice are the hallmarks of Amy Dickinson's advice column. Now, in a delicious and hilarious memoir, Amy gives us her worldview via Main Street with wit and originality, through her own bejeweled binoculars. The view is never, for a moment, self-indulgent. She's a wise and fair queen for sure. Long Live Amy!"—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series, Lucia, Lucia, and Very Valentine

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401322854
Publisher:
Hachette Books
Publication date:
02/03/2009
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Amy Dickinson is a syndicated advice columnist. She replaced Ann Landers in 2003 and now pens the "Ask Amy" column, which appears in more than 100 newspapers nationwide, including the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, Newsday, The Boston Herald, the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Washington Post. She currently lives in Chicago.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Freeville, NY; Chicago, IL
Date of Birth:
November 6, 1959
Place of Birth:
Ithaca, NY
Education:
Georgetown University, 1981
Website:
http://www.amydickinson.com/index.htm

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3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
johannatjs More than 1 year ago
About half-way through this book, I thought, "how does the title fit into this memoir? and, why is this memoir particularly interesting?" I never did really get the title - it sort of fits, but not really. However, I have a couple of answers to the second question. One, for anyone who is interested in getting to know "Ask Amy" this is the book for you. Told in a positive and yet realistic voice, her story is interesting to anyone who has had to make something different of their life than they planned. The second reason is summed up in the last chapter. "Here I am in advanced middle age and I finally realize what it means to be an adult. To give, with no possibility that I'll be rewarded." When the subtitle talks about "raising" here is the end of that process. And I like the ending - it's a nice wrap up to a life that I have come to admire.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Dorian Froelich More than 1 year ago
Just an enjoyable book. Am's wit, lessons and style of writing made the whole book a plesure to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Kimberly_Reads More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, which I read rather quickly during my coffee breaks. Although it is a quick-read, I savored the story even as I devowered it. Amy gives a witty glimpse into her life which pays homage to the women who raised her, supported her during every turn, and to whom she repaid with the same loyal treatment. The story is a memoir that makes the reader feel hopeful, inspired and good about future possibilities while facing the realities of divorce, single-mothering and career changes. Well done!
MinnesotaReader More than 1 year ago
Syndicated columnist /radio host Amy Dickinson has beautifully written a loving tribute to the special women in her family who taught her what "family" is all about, and also to the small New York town her family has called home for over 200 years. With endearing honesty, humor, and warmth, she shares her poignant story of raising her daughter as a single mother with the unconditional love and support of her extended family of strong, independent women in Freeville, N.Y. With divorce and single motherhood a common state in her family, she had many inspiring examples to learn from.on how to survive and build a new life for herself and her daughter. Ms. Dickinson is a magnificently talented writer who truly has a gift for drawing us in. The sense of community and small town life she eloquently describes is very heartwarming. Many of the anecdotes of her close-knit family were very touching. She reminds us all of the importance of family as a source of strength and inspiration. I absolutely loved this engaging, enjoyable memoir and I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an enjoyable, light hearted book that has left me with a "warm, fuzzy, feeling". It's interesting how this book made me realize how important our "beginnings" are to our individual lives; and how hardships can humble us, make us stronger, and less judgmental of others. Having colorful characters woven into our lives helps one become comfortable in almost any situation. It's a good thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having been in similar circumstances some years ago, I expected a book that chronicled something that approximated my own experience, especially that of the support given by family and friends in ones' small home town. Ms Dickinson delivered the essence of that experience but without the writing skill I expected, especially given her line of work. Amy describes the many disappointments, eye opening incidents, paradigm shifts, uplifting moments and personal growth that she and her daughter experience. Those truths could have been told without excessive and minutely described details, and with more skill in sentence/paragraph structure, making this for me a book I could easily put down.
RCook More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed reading Amy Dickinson's book; it was relaxing and delightful. She was honest and real in her descriptions and details about life, and I appreciated the candor with which she wrote. It is a book about a regular life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put the book down. It reminded me a lot of the Gilmore Girls.
Dulcibelle More than 1 year ago
Amy Dickinson comes from a long line of strong women. They had to be. The men in the family seldom stayed around. When Dickinson's husband left her, she and her daughter moved back to Freeville and let the women there help heal the hurts. Dickinson (who became the "replacement" for Ann Landers) tells a wonderful story. I found her tales of life in Freeville entertaining and really wish I could meet all the women in her life. A very enjoyable memoir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tasses More than 1 year ago
The title of NPR commentator and syndicated advice columnist Amy Dickinson's memoir refers to the strong women residing in Freeville, NY where the author ran when she divorced, leaving her the single mother to a toddler. It was the natural place to run as Amy had been raised amongst the cows, the small town simplicity and close-knit bonds of her family there. In times of desperation, isn't Freeville the sort of place we yearn for? In The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them, Dickinson writes openly and humorously about her life in Freeville, NY. Her humor is somewhat laconic and guarded. This can be good and bad. It makes for an easy and fast paced read, but also leaves one feeling a bit cheated. The story of Amy's life follows from her return to Freeville, with toddler daughter in tow, until her daughter leaves for college. During those years, we meet a lot of interesting characters, yet we never really get to know any of them. Just as I started to form a picture, the story would shift and I'd be left with a series of story buds instead of a fully blossomed picture. In the end, The Mighty Queens of Freeville is about the merits of small town life, the safety one only, really ever, feels when they're in the arms of friends and family. In advancing this theme, Ms. Dickinson succeeds. Personal Thoughts: I really had a difficult time getting into this memoir. It reminded me of my efforts with A Girl Named Zippy and I couldn't help but wonder if I had something against stories set in Smalltown, USA. After all, my story began there and I understand its nuanced environment. Is it jealousy? Could I have written a better version? My family stories are just as interesting, my characters filled with even more spunk. Perhaps I should swear-off all small town memoirs, start typing or shut up.
cornwall More than 1 year ago
I read this on a flight from FL to Chicago. She writes easily and well, and I loved the story. Her daughter seems like a nice girl, accomplished, and fun. I think the story could have ended much differently if their small family unit didn't have the larger family unit to keep them sane and grounded.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Riley_T More than 1 year ago
Amy's writing style is cozy- I felt more like I was sitting down to chat with her than I was sitting reading a book. She doesn't waste time with bitter rants or empty fluff- she's got a fresh, no nonsense style that I can only imagine she gets from her family. At no point do you feel like you're reading the bitter rant of some scorned woman, in fact quite the opposite. There is an unwavering positive undertone to the narrative, and a relaxed perspective that makes her easier to relate to. I think the best summary of the book as a whole, is her daughter, Emily's, response to an event that most teenagers would define as mortifying- fatally embarrassing, even (falling through the stage in a high school theater production) "Well, that happened." The entire book is a, "Well, that happened," from divorce, to family, to the eccentricities of raising a child- Amy takes it all in stride, and even does the rest of us a service by turning it into an entertaining, and delightfully quick, read that you might just take something away from.
Frisbeesage More than 1 year ago
When Ann Landers, the famous advice columnist passed away a hole was left in the Chicago Tribune. Seeking someone to fill it, they happened upon Amy Dickinson, a single mother with few credentials who answered all the questions just right. In explaining her success Amy says ¿I make the mistakes so you don¿t have to.¿ Mighty Queens of Freeville is the story of the mistakes Amy made that finally ended in her ¿falling up¿ into the dream job she didn¿t even know she wanted.

There isn¿t anything very remarkable or unusual in Amy¿s story of a failed marriage, single parenthood, an absentee father, her struggle to come to terms with all this and the unconditional love, support, and sage advice she receives from her mother, aunts, and sisters along the way. But she tells the story with such humbleness, wit, and humor that it is entertaining anyway. To me this is the best kind of memoir. I can easily relate to Amy and her circumstances, she makes me laugh, and there are a few gentle reminders that I can do a little better in life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago