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What were your overall thoughts on the book (SPOILERS)

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Tiffani    6

My biggest takeaway from this memoir was the author's ability to see both sides of her circumstances in equal measure.  She was completely unaware of their financial situation, but also took responsibility for her role in their money troubles.  Their new living situation was often described as a beautiful escape from the pressures of civilization on one page, and then a hovel full of troubles on another.  She often describes herself as a victim to her husband's crazy scheme, then later, a partner to her husband on an adventure.  This back-and-forth made the story authentic.  It allowed us to see, not just the idealized version of her life, but the daily challenges that changed her mindset from one day to the next.

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Juniper    9

I found the author's description of the relationship she developed with her ancestors over the course of the novel particularly interesting.  Her frank and reflective comparisons between her life and that of her female predecessors showed both authenticity and provided an introspective look at both the author's guilt/regrets and her growth.  It creates an interesting flip between an obsession with the past and growing acceptance.  How did you experience the relationship between the author and her ancestors? How do you think the inclusion of this added to or toke away from the memoir? 

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Michele    9

The book was very well written, in my opinion, descriptive, decisive and warm. I was invited repeatedly to read one more chapter. I come from a place where similar values to the author are shared, where there is rich family history of hard work and appreciation of the simple things in life. I identified with her connection to her grandmother and family in general. I admire her honesty in the telling of the story, sharing her struggles, challenges, her mountaintop moments and achievements. The one takeaway that is most important to me is that it took the foreclosure and the IRS to bring these two people to a place within themselves where they discovered that the most important things in life are not things and that living according to what you need and not what you want, makes for a good life for everyone. 

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luch    0

I thought it was a good read. It was basically a riches to rags story where the main character grows to accept her circumstances by the end. It made me feel a mix of emotions. I was ready to cry the more she talked through the time she thought her goat and dog were going to die. I had no clue what to call the feelings I felt when the domestic abuse chapter hit, but they were not pleasant. I was happy each time she got passed an obstacle as if I was there helping her too. I have a friend who lives close to where the story takes place and it really feels like a story he would tell me of one his relatives so I really enjoyed it. If I had to rate the book I would give it a 7/10, some parts were too dragged out but it maintained a good pace where it needed to.

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I think it takes courage to write a book this honest. The author admits her mistakes and character flaws even though it makes her a little bit unlikable. By the end she seems redeemed though and I found myself feeling glad her more humbling circumstances didn't break her spirit and love of life. In the beginning of the book I felt she would never make it through life on a farm. I grew up on a farm and it instills a strong sense of practicality in a person-something I feel the author strongly needed. She and her husband made mistakes and continue to make mistakes but they seem to learn from them and that's something meaningful. I would like to have seen her buckle down and take a more informed and active role in their financial decisions but it seems their marital underpinnings are predicated on what I think of as traditional gender roles ("If I had cared for our children like you've cared for our finances our kids would be dead by now!" - one of my favorite parts of the book, though I've paraphrased.) I think this division of responsibility within the marriage was part of the problem, but admittedly many marriages seem to work alright using this tactic. I could never stay in a marriage where my partner withheld such important information from me, yet the author seems to be the kind of person who lives in the land of "ignorance is bliss"-something I'm willing to bet her husband realized about her very early in their relationship. Here again, I find myself wanting to see her shrug off her denial and toss aside the blinders she's placed on herself to accept the hardships of life we must all face. Denial is not a healthy coping mechanism and if the author is ever going to truly complete the redemption cycle, I think she needs to get very real with herself. I applaud her growth so far and hope she writes a follow up book in a few years to show up how much she has grown as person and as a homesteader. I'm rooting for her.

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Sethcalkins    3

I really enjoyed it. I looked up that recipe for homemade ricotta she mentioned. At times it felt as though she was wandering in her narration a bit. I found myself asking "why is she talking down this line of thought?" Overall it was good, though.

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Alyson    1

I enjoyed the book. I agree that the author seems self-absorbed, entitled, and blindly privileged at times. However, she is also human and honest, and because she reveals her flaws so clearly to the reader, I can’t help feeling she finally came to recognize them herself.

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I didn’t feel sympathetic to her problems. It was ( or should have been) her responsibility to keep abreast of their finances. I read the entire book, but became aggravated at the author’s attitude that she was a blameless victim. 

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Granny SNIS    2

The read was one that led me the reader thru the author's memories.  One got a mix of a childhood that was interlaced with care and love but with a mix of unsureness that had no solid goal or goals.leading into young adulthood.  Her first marriage was so wroth with unexperienced pain and unknown territory that I felt the undergirding that lifted her up yanked away leaving a young woman who loved her man struggling for survival, floundering for air and footing.  She was blessed in her friends during this time of her life.  Their support, love and caring graced her thru this wrenching time of her life.  The statue was such a great symbol of this.

The American dream --- grown up into wanting more and more.  David and her acquaintances seemed to be solid in their ventures and as they walked with them at this very busy time of their lives they each got caught up in their perceived roles.  Each did not want to let the other down or the children or themselves. But shut off in their own spaces they forgot to allow the need to communicate with each other as an outsider looking in on this it is so clear as I am not cluttered by the daily chores and demands of life.   The nagging of the debt they were in was not loud enough to break thru these demands.  Circumstances stepped in and started the landslide to discovery thru life's hard lessons.

Thank u and your family for this time with your lives.  It is inspiring and was a light not to heavy read that allowed what happened to be clearly shared.  I know that u have more in u and the storylines that are crying to be expounded on just itching to be and for u to share.

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GB123WNY    1

What an amazing journey. The author and her family persevered through some  challenging lifestyle changes and ended up much deeper in character than before. It was a great read that at times I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed the chance to  vicariously experience owning chickens & goats. Now I know it would be much more than I imagined!

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Kristin    0

I enjoyed this memoir and admire the author for her honesty. I raised an eyebrow at many of the decisions she and her husband made and often found myself talking back to the audiobook at certain points. ("Oh no, how could you think that was a good idea?") Ultimately, I felt the author avoided much of the temptation to pass the blame for their circumstances, though at times it definitely felt like she washed her hands of it. My opinion of the author changed throughout the book because initially I did not like her. In the end, I decided to cease judging and start simply listening. I grew attached to their small farm menagerie and was truly saddened by the health issues faced by one of their bucks. Unlike other reviewers, I occasionally thought the parts about her ancestors felt out of place, particularly at the very end. I'd recommend this to people who enjoy memoirs as it's one of the best I've read. 

Also, the audiobook narrator is awesome. 

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I think it took a great deal of courage to tell this story.  The narrator/author was honest about her shortcomings; her reactions to her husband’s failure to communicate seemed extreme, in that she failed to respond to that failure in any effective way.  But I think that happens in many marriages.  You can be  mad and hurt and still stick it out for a variety of reasons.  I found myself impatient with some of the decisions that contributed to the financial downfall, but we all make our own decisions and then have to live with them.  Again, courageous!  I enjoyed the descriptions, laughed at her reactions, loved the recipes, and the way current events brought her back to the past. Even though I was a farm girl, I leaned a lot from her about goat-dating and chickens. I will definitely be looking for more books by this author.

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53291017    7

Over all it was interesting. I thought it ended very abruptly and I do not care for first person novels. I would have liked to have known if this couple stayed together and if their circumstances improved and if the friendship with Denise was reconciled.  There were too many untied plot threads. Raising goats was interesting, but what happened with the Chickens? The first few chapters were all about poultry, then not another word. I had a hard wrapping my head around making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, not paying taxes, or cutting back on private schools and expenses when trouble reared it's ugly head. Going from a mansion to a snake, rat, bug  infested shack, made me exasperated. Our income IS barely middle class and we live comfortably.  SURE THE IRS was after them, but even the IRS has to allow living expenses. They can not garnish 100%. I checked before I wrote this statement. This story did hold my interest. It just seems unfinished.

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Michele    9

I really appreciate the comments that are shared as each one shines a light on a new or different perspective. I have 4 brothers. My died at the age of 46 so my Mom was a single parent before it was a phenomenon. My Dad handled the finances and my Mom was not involved in the details but she knew the overall situation re amount of income, bills, insurance, wills and healthcare. As a result she raised me to be even more adept than she was in dealing with finances. In the book, I don't believe if the marriage was traditional in the division of responsibilities. Her husband was a successful accountant therefore giving her more than the usual trust. I have learned that great communication between partners and the entire family is key. Never assume anything. I believe the book is an honest and humble self-report filled with life lessons.  Thanks!

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chefteach    5

Kudos to Jennifer McGaha for courageously opening up her soul to write this memoir full of heartache and longing, as well as new-found hope and connection to the land and generations before. Perhaps I relate well to the author as I grew up in Appalachia myself and, though I've moved away, still feel a connection to the mountainous region and its people. Also, I too have found renewed life by getting closer to the land. My first farm animals were chickens and my family gardens, growing our own fruits and vegetables. Though we haven't taken the steps to add goats to our mini farm, there is a desire to do so. I loved reading her tales of googling for information to get her through precarious situations on her farm. 

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samh    3

While there were definitely aspects that frustrated me about the author, including what many others have covered about her personality and lack of accountability, I'm glad I read the book. I normally only stick to fiction, so reading a memoir was a new experience for me. I felt like the tone made it pretty easy to read, given I didn't know what it would be like and probably assumed a memoir would be fairly bland to read.

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MCDP    7

I am so disappointed by this book. Whoever picked this to be The Big Library read should reevaluate their choice. The best part about the book was the back cover synopsis, which is sad. 

If the purpose of this book is to frighten me into saving more money so I don't become forced to live in a dilapidated cabin full of vermin, then bravo. It definitely succeeds on that level. But if I was supposed to take away any other lesson or tidbit of goodness, then sadly, Flat Broke with Two Goats missed it' mark. There is nothing compelling or interesting about this book. I kept going waiting for the big moral that never came.

 

 

 

 

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Nanette    9

I am with you. I wondered why choose this book when there are so many books that are worth reading.

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Nanette    9
16 hours ago, 53291017 said:

Over all it was interesting. I thought it ended very abruptly and I do not care for first person novels. I would have liked to have known if this couple stayed together and if their circumstances improved and if the friendship with Denise was reconciled.  There were too many untied plot threads. Raising goats was interesting, but what happened with the Chickens? The first few chapters were all about poultry, then not another word. I had a hard wrapping my head around making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, not paying taxes, or cutting back on private schools and expenses when trouble reared it's ugly head. Going from a mansion to a snake, rat, bug  infested shack, made me exasperated. Our income IS barely middle class and we live comfortably.  SURE THE IRS was after them, but even the IRS has to allow living expenses. They can not garnish 100%. I checked before I wrote this statement. This story did hold my interest. It just seems unfinished.

I too wondered what happened. And couldn't figure out why her husband didn't talk to her. And the IRS thing is pretty wild.

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Sudsy    14

While the title was catching, I was very disappointed in the book.

For an English major and an adjunct college professor who taught composition and presented seminars and workshop, Jennifer does not possess a great vocabulary.

How many times did a positive event feel  "like winning the lottery" and after a grueling ordeal "like completing a marathon"?

I could almost anticipate when those phases would appear.

Those two phrases were just a few of many used repeatedly through the book.

Jennifer appears remorseful about owing all this money, but then celebrates certain events by going out to dinner, complete with drinking.

Lots of beer is consumed. I am not a beer drinking, but I know that beer as well as other alcohol is not cheap.

I don't begrudged them wanting to celebrate, but had they not learned anything from their past life style.

Their rent on the cabins $250 a month. While they were struggling even to meet that payment, they paid $400($450?)dollars for the first two goats.

Where did that money come from????

They had to feed the animals and while the vet seemed understanding about payments, she still wasn't free.

Priorities seems askew. Food for animals or food for themselves?

They had two goats that were not giving them anything in return for their investment,  yet were costing them money...money they didn't have.

Even after, they finally get a pregnant goat and are obtaining milk, they were still losing money.

Is the satisfaction of making your own soap and certain dishes using goat milk sufficient justification to cover the deficient?

I personally do not think so.

It would have been cheaper to buy fresh goat milk if you need that "FIX" of making your own soap.

Had they ever considered a coop farm, where you share in the upkeep of the animals?

Now they have a goat who had had several medical procedures but is sterile.

He still needs to be feed, but we keep him around because he is a good pet, a rather expensive one at that.

Jennifer never said what happened to the two males that were born, except flippantly about anyone need a stud.

I am really not sure what the entire purpose of this book was, if any.

Maybe it was enough to put a small dent in what they owe the government.

My husband and I are by no stretch of the imagination, rich, but we certainly pay our bills on time as well as our taxes.

I wonder how they escaped jail as garnishing their salaries did not seem to stop them for spending.

Well. it keep my mind off the wind storm we were having the other night.

Certainly glad I did not pay money for this book, as I took it out from the library.

 

 

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Adam Sockel    32
1 hour ago, Nanette said:

I am with you. I wondered why choose this book when there are so many books that are worth reading.

Titles for Big Library Read are all chosen the same way. Publishers submit their titles and then they are voted on by OverDrive users around the world. If you'd like to vote on future titles you can sign up for our emails here: https://www.overdrive.com/account/sign-up?utm_source=Call to Action&utm_medium=On-page Link&utm_content=Header Link&utm_campaign=User Registrations

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Jules    14

As someone who is frugal, occasionally bordering on cheap, most of this book drove me crazy.  If I owed $100k+ to the IRS, I would certainly not be spending hundreds of dollars on goats.  I enjoyed the animal stories, but every time she talked about buying another goat I just wanted to shout at her to use that money to pay her bills already!

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KLG    13

I am only half way through and am not sure if I can even finish it.  I am shaking my head at every page and every choice she makes.  I think I've said "What the Hell" several times during each chapter.  The choices that she makes and the total lack of accountability are astonishing.  I hope this wasn't written expecting any sympathy for the main character.  She is just a spoiled child pretending to be an adult.  How about get a job - any job.  I would love to be able to spend my days "playing" at making a homestead.  When she was so mad at David because there wasn't any hot water to take a shower after a day of mountain biking - I actually yelled "why can't you make the damn fire".    She ordered chicks from a hatchery across the country - why didn't she go to the local feed store in the spring and get what I'm sure would have been more reasonably priced chicks?  They are so in debt and she complains constantly about the sad state of her life, but she always seems to have money for so many totally unnecessary things.   I have lived on a farm my entire life and find this to a sad, sad commentary on the priorities of today's society :(

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