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What were your overall thoughts on the book (SPOILERS)

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Schternli    2
22 hours ago, chefteach said:

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. 

@chefteach Yes! I wondered if one of the things that made me enjoy this book more than I might have otherwise was my familiarity with Appalachia, and the Brevard/Asheville region particularly. Her descriptions of the place, the people, and homestead farming resonated with my own experiences. For me, it drew out this idea that we shouldn’t wait to be forced into a closer relationship with the people we really are and really could be. Thanks for your comment!

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Debbie Ann    3

It was a character study.  Day to day life.  Nothing embellished. All the blame, mishaps, mistakes and lessons learned whether shallow or deep.  

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I listened to the book. The narrator had a very whiney voice which actually suited the author's whining and lack of self responsibility.  I tried without success to find a picture of the dilapidated cabin ... Which sounded with its appliances and dishwasher not really a shack in the woods for sure. Why no pics?

Here is a couple with a six  figure salary of one and whatever the author was making on top, with no clue how to manage the finances? What on earth was it spent on? LIttle  slip ups such as when they were flat broke she was returning from a car trip to Florida...who does that, leaving poor David fixing the house and acting as mouse killer. 

The whole book totally grated on me. I have kept goats when I owned a small organic farm, kept chickens, sold the eggs, made cheese etc. and everything she says seems exaggerated. I agree why chose this dreadful pity pot book? I just do not  get those who say it took courage to write it. She wrote it to make money, and must have a friend in publishing as the writing style is trite.

aside: we used to live near Egg and I road in Wa. The location of the book and movie. There was another person who had a bent for exaggeration as well. Poor little rich gals.

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OldBayBabe    23

I really wanted to like the book more than I did. Her endless making herself out to be a victim was so tiresome. She seems to still be perplexed why the people she defaulted on (hundreds of thousands of dollars!) and whose house they did not maintain or repair would not want to talk to her ever again or why their things were moved into the garage and the locks were changed once the foreclosure started. Who wouldn't do that, the author was so out of touch with reality and so stubborn not to fix leaks, the stove, the insulation when they lived there, for all their "friends" they ripped off knew, she'd steal the fixtures or trash the place. 

They also made very few steps to cut back on expenses, sending their kids to private school after they learned of the IRS issue, meals out, drinking, travel etc. She refused to even look into teaching HS, she has a degree and most places they can teach HS while you get a teaching certificate or at least sub. She didn't think they'd pass the background check but she didn't even try. Instead, she kept being an adjunct making well under 10,000 a year. She refused to apply for a job at a department store because she wore casual "arty" clothes. I can't imagine writing a memoir and telling people about all of this. I'd be too ashamed. I think she still thinks she behaved properly and was a victim in all this and that's why she feels like people will read this and sympathize with her. 

 

She needs therapy and credit counseling ASAP. 

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Jprglisa    1

I liked the structure of the book and all the recipes. I was annoyed by the end of it that she stayed. She did not show anything but a nostalgic fondness for her husband as the father of her grown children. There was nothing about complaining about the house and how none of this was her fault and she is suffering because of him. The book was most optimistically written when she was on her own. I think that my distaste for how her husband handled their financial problems and the fact that the cabin sounded like a horrible place to live may have clouded my judgement a little.

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Jules    14
12 hours ago, OldBayBabe said:

I really wanted to like the book more than I did. Her endless making herself out to be a victim was so tiresome. She seems to still be perplexed why the people she defaulted on (hundreds of thousands of dollars!) and whose house they did not maintain or repair would not want to talk to her ever again or why their things were moved into the garage and the locks were changed once the foreclosure started. Who wouldn't do that, the author was so out of touch with reality and so stubborn not to fix leaks, the stove, the insulation when they lived there, for all their "friends" they ripped off knew, she'd steal the fixtures or trash the place. 

They also made very few steps to cut back on expenses, sending their kids to private school after they learned of the IRS issue, meals out, drinking, travel etc. She refused to even look into teaching HS, she has a degree and most places they can teach HS while you get a teaching certificate or at least sub. She didn't think they'd pass the background check but she didn't even try. Instead, she kept being an adjunct making well under 10,000 a year. She refused to apply for a job at a department store because she wore casual "arty" clothes. I can't imagine writing a memoir and telling people about all of this. I'd be too ashamed. I think she still thinks she behaved properly and was a victim in all this and that's why she feels like people will read this and sympathize with her. 

 

She needs therapy and credit counseling ASAP. 

And the"friends" were right - they stole the bar stools.  I'm glad I don't have any of those kind of friends.

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OldBayBabe    23

She didn't learn anything by the end at all--taking out thousands of dollars of student loans to get an MFA when she already has one MA in writing. How is that going to actually help her earning potentional? It is adding to their tremendous debt and if she really wanted to become a tenured professor, she needs a doctorate, not an MFA. 

 

The book ends with her saying that the friend she bought the house from also behaved badly--how I truly don't know! She seems upset and bewildered that she cut off contact after they stopped paying her the mortgage but what did she expect? She neglected the house by her own admission and stopped paying the mortgage! Who on earth would want to stay in contact with someone like that? Maybe the house wasn't in awesome shape to begin with but they chose to buy it and get a private mortgage from their friends, the sellers. She seems to think everything just happened to her but it really was all her fault. 

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On 4/6/2018 at 1:23 PM, Jules said:

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!

Thank you! I’ve read about 80% of the book, and I likely won’t get to the end. How much did she spend on goats, goat enclosures, goat food, and vet bills? She could have purchased a truckload of goat milk and cheese at the store with that money. I don’t eat much dairy, so this seems like a complete waste of money to me. She just makes one bad decision after another. She needs a second job, not goats. 

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Twinsis    4

I did not feel sorry for the author.  I thought she was very whiney.  Their combined incomes were substantial yet they couldn't manage.  How sad.  I think there are many people who truly have problems with poverty.  They were educated.  No sympathy from me

 

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Ljwagoner    0

Very well written. I found the author descriptions of learning about caring for and raising goats very entertaining. Her ability to be so open and honest about her experience with domestic violence was courageous. 

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Cheryl Picc    0

I enjoyed the book very much. While I disagreed with her choices sometimes, I don’t feel it necessary to judge them. I did feel it ended a bit abruptly, but maybe that was just my usual sentiment when a book I like is over. 

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jennrobin    0

I felt strongly connected to this book.  The great recession was a life changing learning experience for me. My experience was different from the author in I was attempting to begin my career (teaching) and in my case my husband and I weren't making enough money to be in trouble with IRS, but struggles we had and I too hid my head in the sand more than I liked and went through awakenings. We weren't necessarily in huge debt, but the knowledge that one major injury or illness could upset the balance  was terrifying. I didn't agree with all the choices the author and her husband made, but I didn't feel the author agreed with herself in hindsight either,  I sure cant say I agree with every choice I've made, but I like to think I own these mistakes, I think writing this was the author owning her mistakes.  Somewhere along the line my husband (who unlike the author's husband actually is named David) convinced me to move to the country and get chickens. I conquered a fear yeast (don't judge me) and started making bread from scratch.  I am far from living off the land but I see the authors point in resetting your life and celebrating the successes, because yes life has many, many failures.  For months husband been working on me to get goats, after reading this, I think no. 

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sws    1

I love this book.  I love how the author grew as a person.  I love how her relationship evolved with her husband.   It's  easy  to  love when things are going well ,  it takes courage and commitment  to  hang in there  when life is hard  

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Faith175    8

I did not know anything about this book before reading it. I opened up my Libby app and saw the Big Library Read selection and started reading.  I have to say, Jennifer is entitled, whiny, and completely self absorbed. There was no reflection on the behaviors, hers or Davids, that led to the current state of financial distress. They continued to make seemingly extravagant purchases for their circumstances; $450 on one goat! I was astonished that they never had a discussion about what behaviors led to their current situation. Both David and Jennifer were basically pretending they didn't own hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS; their debt still outstanding at the end of the book. 

I do think it takes courage to write this kind of memoir, exposing your severe lack of financial responsibility. Jennifer was brave to put her experience out there, but seems to be completely oblivious to the fact that millions of people work two or three jobs just to keep a roof over their heads. Millions of people work low paying jobs and still manage to live within their means. 

 

The recipes were the best part. 

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AnnieMac    0

I really liked the book (and the reader).  I like to read about people who are helpless and not informed empower themselves to to change.    She kicked her "oh woe is me" attitude and got the job done!  I loved the attachment she felt toward her goats and animals.  I felt this book was well-written with a lot of feeling and courage.

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Enyoyed the book. a quick read.  What happened to them could happen to anyone. A little disappointed by the ending or maybe I missed some. Did thelittle animal not have babies on the back when fitst discovered in their goat barn. They think she will eat baby goats. What happened to google search?  They are vegeterian animals, completely harmless. COUPLE of times I wanted too smack her for her attitude. 

Home sick this was my first bigliabraryread.  

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I was dubious about the book at first, but once I got into its cadence and flow, I loved it.  It is wonderful that this forum presents books that I would normally pass over.  I agree with the other members who appreciated both the flaws and the strengths of the characters, and drew inspiration from the courage of Jennifer McGaha to share her feelings of hurt, to relate how she indulged her emotions, then detail her journey to rise above the situation.  It did end abruptly -- however, that left me hungry enough to read the "Conversation" at the end of the book.  Incredibly, throughout the book, my mind kept thinking of "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed.  And lo, the "Conversation" mentioned that that novel was one that Jennifer herself admired!  Thank you, moderator Adam Sockel, for explaining how the books are chosen.  I may love them or not, but they are always worth a trial.

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p010ne    0

The title of this memoir is misleading as I cannot understand how she could be flat broke as it seems to me she is eligible to be a member of the Eastern Band Of Cherokee and participate in the annual gaming per capita payment. Also there are far more than only two goats, and then there are all those egg laying chickens!
She certainly made a grievous mistake in choosing her first husband (based upon his thighs in tight jeans?) and should have secured him a job in a slaughter house wielding a sledge hammer to dispatch the cows to satisfy his penchant for animal cruelty!
I had observed some elderly widows who knew nothing about the family finances so I have always ensured that my wife is aware of our family finances and expenditures so I cannot fathom how the author could be so ignorant and unparticipating in the same! She obviously possessed and undergraduate degree and it is unforgiveable that she was so blasé ignorant!
I think readers can experience schadenfreude enjoyment in her "perils of Pauline" misfortunes that were bumps in the road of life and not any really total catastrophes, but she could benefit from reading some hints for dummies, taking extension courses, etc. instead of merely Googling for help; although they do seem to learn from their many missteps and errors!

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I found the memoir a charming and endearing experience, much like those I've enjoyed by author, Judith R. Hendricks.  Jennifer searches for a life that fits her comfortably, while living the life of a teacher, struggling along with her husband in a financial crisis.  She finds value in the environment and living off the land, while experiencing foods many wealthy people would pay exhorbitant prices for and shares her recipes.

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Beverly    0

I enjoyed this book very much. She is a wonderful writer who opened herself up with her honesty.  I hope she makes a lot of money from this book to settle her debts and free herself of the burdens she lives with.

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Debee    3

I found it difficult to accept that a confident, educated & professional woman in the twenty first century could be so oblivious to the difficulties of their financial situation.  To be a home-maker & bringing up children doesn’t abdicate one from the responsibility of house keeping/ school fees/ utility bills etc.  She tells the reader her husband is working all hours & knows this affects their family relationship & communication... I was sure we were about to hear of him having a heart attack. 

As with her first marriage, although she is loyal to her men,  there is an absence of communication & trust In both relationships and when things hit a crisis she firefights until decisions are taken out of her hands.  The shame she feels in both relationships is very evident & her escape to teach & live alone gives her time to lick her wounds & be absent from the troubles.  Again I felt sympathy for her husband as she abandons him - another display of poor communication & support. 

Although it was interesting knowing about the keeping of goats I felt that this was used to show a building of team work, respect & love between them that should have occurred in the bringing up of their children.  This and the more grounded, basic hand to mouth living with the her reflections of previous generations living close to the land salvaged my opinion of this lady’s story.

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I think everyone can relate to at least one of her situations and may have similar experiences at some point in thier lives.  She really covers a wide range of relationship issues and resolutions against the back drop of her financial situation.  

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ilovebatz    0

I liked this book. It started off slowly but I found it quite interesting in the end. I think McGaha realized that she was as much at fault as her husband with what happened with them. It seemed like at the end of the book they both were better at letting each other know what was going on. I found it very interesting how they adapted to life in the country with much less creature comforts than most of us take for granted. It does say something about how downsizing may make us happier. I liked the recipes that she threw in at the end of most chapters.

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The book was boring to me. The amount of money they must have had to owe $100,000 on is staggering. As a family of three disabled people living on less than $23,000 a year the authors whining, to me, is like a slap in the face. And no I have no debts. I pay my bills. I have kept chickens and goats and sheep for their fleece, so I really do not buy into some of her experiences, plus she seemed to leave the renovations to her poor husband. As someone else said a three storey cabin is really a house. Cabin to me is one room. Hardship to the author would not be hardship to me. Someone mentioned the hardships of adjunct college staff.. Try working minimum wage at three different supermarts as they only employ part time, and no sick pay or insurance.  The problem is the author is possibly genuine in her remarks and I can see better off people responding to her, but to normal people or genuinely poor people like me, may be insulted. I want to see a picture of this cabin. Any chance of that? She was in PETA and had the dogs, so a little check for those attributes. Egg and I was also exaggerated. Would have liked something more interesting for the BIG READ

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