The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this daughter's love letter to her mother...about Evelyn Ryan, wife of an alcoholic and mother of 10 very active kids. She supplemented the small amount her husband brought home by entering contests in the 50s and 60s, using her wit, wisdom, and writing skills to craft jingles and poems and win money and prizes.
I find it interesting to note that many of the people who reviewed this book found it to be too sugary or unrealistic, or had a hard time understanding why Evelyn didn't leave her husband. I observe several reasons: (1) she clearly loved him, (2) he was not abusive to her except for one notable occasion, (3) she had 10 kids and no employable skills, (4) it was the 50s and 60s, for God's sake, (5) she was a Catholic convert and believed that divorce was wrong, and (6) she felt as responsible for him as she did for her children...and clearly, he needed her.
As much about Terry Ryan's mother's creativity and stamina as it is about growing up in a family with 10 kids with an alcoholic parent, this story is a wonderful testimony to Evelyn Ryan's strong character and amazing parenting skills. It made my life seem quite a bit less chaotic, with only three children and a steady income. It also managed to make growing up in such a huge family sound fun! They were certainly a close-knit family, in spite of their struggles.
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