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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Prize-Winner of Defiance Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less...Review

About the book:
Evelyn Ryan, wife of an alcoholic husband and mother of ten children, lived in a small town in a time and place when women did not seek jobs outside the home. When finances ran low, feeling desperate, she turned to her parish priest who suggested she "take in laundry." Ryan had to laugh at the advice because she could barely keep up with her own family's washing and ironing. A lesser woman might have succumbed to poverty, but she was determined to keep her family financially afloat and to teach her children that the life of the mind was important. 

In the early 1950s, Ryan started entering contests, composing her jingles, poems, and essays at the ironing board. She won household appliances, bikes, watches, clocks, and, occasionally, cash. She won a freezer, and several weeks later, she won a supermarket shopping-spree. When the family was faced with eviction, she received a $5000 first place check from the regional Western Auto Store. Ryan's unconventionality and sense of humor triumphed over poverty, and her persistence makes the reader cheer her on.

 A simply delightful book to read. Set in the 1950s, the author's family struggled to make ends meet. Ten kids and an alcoholic husband drained what income they had. Evelyn Ryan, was an amazing woman and by entering contests, she managed to provide an additional income and prizes to support her family. Evelyn's daughter, Terry, tells an entertaining story about her mom. It's clear that she admired and loved her mother a great deal.

Her voice rings true though, and her resourceful mother managed to win shopping sprees to put food on the table and in the freezer. She stockpiled the prizes she won and gave them to her children as Christmas presents. She won a washing machine and a car, which she then sold for the much needed cash.

Evelyn saved everything and the book has pictures of the contests she entered and her winning slogans and jingles. It's an entertaining story of a woman who will do anything necessary to provide for her children, but one who does it all with a happy, positive attitude.

The ending is heartwarming, as the children go through their mother's cedar chest, they discover her notebooks and contest entries, but also the secret to their mother's circumstances in life and what she overcame to raise them. A terrific book.

I read my personal copy, but you can purchase your own here.

Read 2005

* * * *
4/5 Stars

1 comment:

  1. I read this a few years ago and really loved it. I told my mom to read it but I don't think she ever did. I watched the movie after reading the book, but of course it was not as good. Enjoyable but not as good as the book.