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Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 11, 2013
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“Link’s story possesses that rare, elusive, but much sought-after feeling of authenticity . . . Glints with Link’s raw, willful energy.”
—New York Times Book Review
“A heroic-comic saga of single motherhood, pure stubbornness, and the loyalty of three young sons. And more than that, an honest account of the working poor, the people who buy day-old bread, patronize libraries, rarely go to movies, and don't need your sympathy. Just a break now and then.”
“Hilarious, wrenching and heartwarming, Link’s poignant memoir chronicles one woman’s determination to discover meaning and wholeness in the midst of brokenness. It’s almost as if Cheryl Strayed had stayed down on the farm instead of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.”
"Electric, candid . . . A country song of a memoir, complete with a broken-down truck named Cookie. It's great fun to listen to once, full blast."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Many memoirs about the trauma of divorce are available today, but none of them is as dynamic as Mardi Jo Link's fittingly titled Bootstrapper."
“You’ll fall in love with Mardi Jo Link’s family in this irreverent and heartwarming memoir depicting her heroic fight to hold on to her northern Michigan farm and the simple way of life she wants to preserve for her three young sons.”
“A potent cocktail of ingenuity and humor . . . about a mother’s fierce love and the sustaining fabric of family . . . Direct, funny, void of self-pity, and exceedingly humane.”
“Tough, honest, and appealing . . . will appeal to the bootstrapper in all of us.”
“Funny . . . honest . . . A tale of grit and determination . . . You can’t help but admire the ingenuity of this four-member team, each stepping up during one crisis or another.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Beautifully written . . . brutally honest . . . crystallizes the love, the struggles and the loneliness of a single mom.”
“Link’s hopes, dreams, triumphs, losses, and more are laid bare. But what shone through the brightest was the love for her sons . . . I couldn’t put Bootstrapper down—I was cheering Mardi Jo on with every chapter . . . These are the memoirs I like to read—real people, real life. And she sounds like the kind of person I’d like to visit with on the porch.”
—A Bookworm’s World
“Mardi Jo Link’s fierce love for her three sons oozes from every page of this ode to tenacity, honesty, authenticity, and creative survival skills . . . She’s always doggedly determined and funny—yes, unceasingly funny . . . Shed a tear or two and laugh out loud as you share the ride that is motherhood with this authentic woman who uses much more than just her boots to pull herself out of misery and insolvency into a life well lived.”
—Hungry for Good Books?
“Refreshingly powerful . . . Straight from the heart . . . [Link] speaks to the power of self-reliance, while entertaining readers with her tireless defiance and sheer badassery.”
“Irreverent yet poignant . . . humorous and heartwarming.”
—Traverse City Record-Eagle
“Intriguing . . . Hilarious . . . A fascinating look at Link’s family’s ability to persevere and use assorted, often creative innovations to succeed . . . Great summer reading.”
—Lansing State Journal
“Bootstrapper does what only a really good book can do . . . Maybe it’s because of Link’s faith in the future, the kind of self-reliance that puts most of us to shame, or just the enormity of the courage it took to keep her boys’ spirits up . . . but I rooted for her all the way through the book . . . Mardi Link is the woman we all hope we’d be if ever faced with the same trials, with boys to raise, and a new life to lead.”
“I love the author’s voice. Funny and self-deprecating, but also heartwarming and hopeful.”
“As a writer and mother, Mardi Jo Link is a true force of nature. This lovely, lyrical memoir of family, farm and faith is as stunningly unforgettable as a Lake Michigan sunset.”
—Wade Rouse, author of At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream
“In Bootstrapper, memoirist Mardi Jo Link harvests the fruitful moments from her hardscrabble experiences as a single mother and offers up a near endless bounty of vital humor and vivacious humanity. Just you wait, Dear Reader. This book will make a home inside your heart.”
—Jon Pineda, author of Sleep in Me
More About the Author
Her second book, Isadore's Secret, was published in 2009 also by the University of Michigan Press, and chronicles the mysterious disappearance of a Felician nun from her convent in 1907. It was named a Michigan Notable Book, a Great Lakes Great Read, and also spent several months on the Heartland Bestseller List.
Mardi's latest work is a forthcoming memoir from Knopf. She lives with her husband and three sons on a hobby farm near Traverse City, Michigan.
Top Customer Reviews
Mardi Jo Link is living the life she always dreamed of - three amazing young sons and the opportunity to raise them in the countryside in a beautiful old farmhouse sitting on six acres. And yes, there was a husband too - but with divorce now a certainty, Mardi Jo is determined to hang onto her sons, her house and her land - by herself.
"I'm claiming my sons, the farm, the debt, the other debt, the horses, the dogs, and the land. I'm claiming our century-old farmhouse, the garden, the woods, the pasture, the barn, and the Quonset-hut garage. They're all mine now, and this is how I will raise my boys: on cheerful summer days and well water and BB guns and horseback riding and dirt. Because I'm claiming our whole country life, the one I've been dreaming of and planning out and working for since I was a little girl."
And this is where the bootstrapping comes into play -for Link is working with next to nothing in the way of finances. And wants to do it on her own - "I made this bed and I'll either lie in it or die in it, but I won't ask anyone for help."
Mardi Jo details the physical ups and downs - the day to day business of providing, but Bootstrapper also reads like a personal diary with Link's hopes, dreams, triumphs, losses and more laid bare. But what shone through the brightest was the love for her sons. These are the passages that stayed with me the longest. There are struggles, but the love and support they feel for each other is tangible. And quite humorous at times.
""Boys," I announced, "we're going to raise some chickens."
"Another pet to play with!" said Will, the idealist.Read more ›
I did finish it, but all the time I was reading this book, I was waiting for something that never came. I'm afraid the experience was more like listening patiently to a friend tell about all the stuff going wrong in her life -- when you're listening because, hey, that's what friends do. A lot of this book seemed sort of whomped up, hyberbole, so there was a sense of "drama queen" here. Granted, a lot did go wrong and there were plenty of challenges. The author succeeded in what she set out to do. If the whole thing were toned down a bit -- to lower the reader's expectations -- I think it would have come off better.
In this kind of memoir, I look for real humor, compassion and a deeper level of understanding -- new insights, new patterns, an expansion of awareness. I want the book to open up something new for me, change me in what feels like a good way. In other words, I want something besides what I read here.
This book isn't badly written, and no author can be expected to write as well early on, as after the first seven or eight books. So I hope this author doesn't give up. But -- I wouldn't recommend spending money to buy this one.
SPOILERS!!--Mardi Jo Link's book, Bootsrapper, is about a suddenly single woman, her three sons, and a farm. To be more specific, it is about a broke, single mother, three very charming sons, and a farm that is alternately an albatross and a Utopia.
Link begins her story with the separation from her husband, for reasons only hinted at in her journal-like recollections until further into the story. The story is hampered by vagueness at times, and I think part of it was understandably for privacy's sake. At other times, I felt that she was caught up in the weediness of too many words to describe how SHE perceived an event, forgetting that the reader needs enough details to come to see the event in the whole. I wanted to shout, "Okay! I get it, but what actually HAPPENED?"
For example, there was the incident with the horse, which was upsetting to read about. I might have been even more sympathetic toward Link's feelings, if I knew what really happened with that whole incident. While I pondered that, suddenly, there is a stray dog she's never seen before, and she calls it "a killer" and wants to "take the dog down" with a BB gun, then "finish him off" with the golf club. I abhor animal cruelty, and I was repulsed. What's more, I couldn't figure out why she came to this macabre conclusion about the animal. I went back, reread, and I still am not sure what I missed.
There were other moments in the story, when I wondered who was the adult in the family and who were the children. Some of Link's decisions were questionable, but I often felt considerable empathy for the circumstances Link was forced to make them in. Link was given a raw hand, and she just as often played it well.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved this book. Loved the fortitude that it takes to be a single mother. Loved the ingenuity that the author demonstrates to keep her family afloat. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Sarah
The heartbreak in the beginning pulled me in hard and the characters are great, although the resolution is definitely missing some badassery. Read morePublished 2 months ago by heather j kaweck
Mardi writes from her heart and the reader can relate to her "adventures"Published 3 months ago by Betty Crawford
This author is an articulate and interesting writer. The writing style of the book had a nice cadence and was easy to read. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sheila L. Salo-Seifert