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The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them Hardcover – February 3, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. I didnt 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 papers replacement for the late Ann Landers. Here, Dickinson traces her own personal history, as well as the history of her mothers 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. Im surrounded by people who are not impressed with me, Dickinson humorously laments. They dont care that my syndicated column has twenty-two million readers. Dickinsons irresistible memoir reads like a letter from an upbeat best friend. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

When Ann Landers retired as the reigning doyenne of advice-column divas, the Chicago Tribune conducted a nationwide search for her successor, ultimately selecting a relatively unknown NPR contributor and Time magazine columnist. Young and savvy, Dickinson belied the image of a bespectacled matron dispensing timeworn homilies and adages. Offering pithy, no-nonsense counsel, Dickinson quickly charmed legions of fans with her unabashed candor, tension-diffusing wit, and astute reasoning. How this fortysomething single mother came by such wisdom and practicality is lovingly explored in Dickinson’s joyous memoir, an unabashed homage to the notable women who raised her, unassuming small town that nurtured her, and soul-mate daughter who sustained her through the emotional minefields of divorce, single parenthood, and career uncertainty. Though the Dickinson women might have been unlucky in romantic love, their marital misfortune only served to strengthen their innate resolve and unwavering commitment to family. Buoyant and bright, Dickinson offers a refreshingly open and sincere tribute to life’s most important relationships. --Carol Haggas
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1 edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401322859
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401322854
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 40 people found the following review helpful By emmejay VINE VOICE on February 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I believe that behind every ordinary face there's an extraordinary life story. But my belief wavered while reading The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the People Who Raised Them, a memoir by Amy Dickinson (of the syndicated advice column, "Ask Amy").

The life that Amy presents seems quite ordinary (motherhood, divorce, an extended family), but the narrative voice does little to make the familiar circumstances feel universal or engaging. Chapters are organized by topic (e.g. divorce; motherhood; buying a house; pets; moving away from family; career) rather than by time, and most begin by bumping the reader back to when Amy was married, with a baby. Over time, the structure feels like a loop that prevents forward movement.

A truly distinctive aspect of Amy's life -- that her extended family is almost exclusively women -- resides mostly in the memoir's title and is not developed within. Nor are many words devoted to the truly extraordinary aspect -- Amy being named successor to Ann Landers. Readers who bear through the ordinary in this memoir will likely be disappointed by the exclusion of the other.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By D. Quinn on February 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This memoir was wonderful - once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Dickinson's candid, no-nonsense prose is at once honest, touching and punctuated with hilarity, and her stories of female resilience are achingly real.

The story follows Dickinson from her divorce (when her daughter Emily is a toddler) to Emily's freshman year of college and catalogues the wide and varied lessons they learned together along the way. It's not a memoir about her rise to fame but rather about the extraordinarily ordinary women in her family who gave her skills to become a successful advice columnist and at the same time raise a child.

I highly recommend this book - read it, then give a copy to your mom!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M.Jacobsen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
These are the loose memoirs of Amy Dickinson, the woman chosen to replace advice columnist extraordinaire Ann Landers. Her childhood, failed marriage, single motherhood and wayward pets are all fair game for this humorous look-back at her life before and after Ask Amy.

Billed as a memoir, Dickinson's book is perhaps better described as a loose collection of cute anecdotes about her family, her divorce, her pets, or anything else that comes to mind. Pieced together a bit haphazardly, Dickinson nonetheless has a sharp, witty voice that shines through no matter the seriousness of the subject matter.

The ex-husband gets repeatedly skewered throughout the book (apparently time, in fact, does not heal all wounds), but that's the price one pays when an ex-spouse has a national platform on which to skew as she wishes.

While the anectdotes were very enjoyable, there is a lack of focus on the original focus of the book, namely the female family members who inspire the title. The snippets of aunts, sisters and especially her mother leave you feeling it just wasn't enough. What the reader does get, however, is a snapshot of life that is easy to relate to and produces a chuckle or two.

If you love humor applied to the human condition, we're willing to bet you'd enjoy this one, as long as you don't have expectations of a thorough and introspective autobiography. Uplifting and never trite, Amy Dickinson touches on struggles common to all of us, meets those troubles head-on and shows us why we should never, ever give up.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on March 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Let me correct a misunderstanding about this book. If you, like me, thought it was a book about women and sisters and mothers and daughters, all sharing bonding moments together ... it's not. This is why it has a three star rating instead of a four or even a five. The writing is good and conversational. It's quick and easy, but I still came away from the book knowing less about the author than I did when I picked it up. It was more about her and her daughter, living alone after Amy's divorce.

There are comical moments and funny writing in this book. You can hear the author telling the story in a wry voice which makes it even funnier. Amy Dickinson steps in to fill Ann Lander's shoes and while I don't get the "Ask Amy" column in my newspaper, my parents do, I think. We get "Annie's Mailbox" and "Dear Abby" in our newspapers, but I don't think I have read "Ask Amy." I'd like to because if she's funny in this book, I imagine she's funny in her columns. Anyhow, this book is more about the relationship she has with her daughter after the divorce. Her sisters and mother and aunts all were huge help in salving the wounds she suffered in the divorce. But the stories were light on them.

I am not a single mother by any means but my husband works a lot of hours and strange hours, so there have been times when I do feel like a single mother. This memoir touches a lot on that issue of raising a child on your own. What tickles me is how "nerdy" she is with Emily. Instead of signing her up for every single sports/ballerina/dance classes, she takes her to musuems and zoos and travels across the country to home in Freeville, NY. That child is blessed in spite of the fact that she may not have the traditional family structure. Dickinson was a very involved mother and it shows in her book.
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