Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm by Mardi Jo Link (audio)

Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Poignant, irreverent, and hilarious: a memoir about survival and self-discovery, by an indomitable woman who never loses sight of what matters most. 

It’s the summer of 2005, and Mardi Jo Link’s dream of living the simple life has unraveled into debt, heartbreak, and perpetually ragged cuticles. She and her husband of nineteen years have just called it quits, leaving her with serious cash-flow problems and a looming divorce. More broke than ever, Link makes a seemingly impossible resolution: to hang on to her century-old farmhouse in northern Michigan and continue to raise her three boys on well water and wood chopping and dirt. Armed with an unfailing sense of humor and three resolute accomplices, Link confronts blizzards and foxes, learns about Zen divorce and the best way to butcher a hog, dominates a zucchini-growing contest and wins a year’s supply of local bread, masters the art of bargain cooking, wrangles rampaging poultry, and withstands any blow to her pride in order to preserve the life she wants.

With an infectious optimism that would put Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm to shame and a deep appreciation of the natural world, Link tells the story of how, over the course of one long year, she holds on to her sons, saves the farm from foreclosure, and finds her way back to a life of richness and meaning on the land she loves. 

My thoughts:
I was ready for a memoir and there is just something about memoirs by everyday people that makes them feel more real and closer to home.  Mardi and her husband are in the process of divorcing and, instead of taking the easy way and selling the farm, Mardi decides she wants to hold onto the way of life she envisioned for herself and her sons. 

She wants to keep the farm, teach her sons how to do farm chores that include both growing food in the ground and taking care of animals, and continue on as she always dreamed.  But a lot of stuff gets in her way.  Animals come and go, they die in accidents, to be used as food and are attacked by other animals.  She juggles debts and falls behind and does things over and over to make their meager finances stretch a little further.  Having a lot of unexpected squash in a field, she devises recipes to use it for meal after meal.  Day old bread, dented cans, eggs from a neighboring farm, all sorts of cuts of meat from a hog they raised to be butchered (belly bacon anyone?) all keep her family fed.

Through all the ups and down, and there are quite a few roadblocks and downs along her year long journey, Mardi keeps her spirits up, or her "dobbers" as her family saying goes and keeps moving forward.  Found firewood, Goodwill shopping sprees, contest winning zucchini for bread gift cards, electric blankets and pecking chickens all come together to make both Mardi and her three sons stronger and more resilient people.  Through all the bad that comes at her, Mardi maintains the hope and belief that they will preserver and come through better on the other side. 

I very much enjoyed hearing Mardi's journey from beginning to end.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307596918
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Pages: 272

Meet the Author

Mardi Jo Link is the author of When Evil Came to Good Hart (2008) and Isadore’s Secret (2009), winner of the Michigan Notable Book Award. She lives with her family on a small farm in northern Michigan.

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