Monday, May 18, 2015

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How my mother raised 10 kids on 25 words or lessThe Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How my mother raised 10 kids on 25 words or less by Terry Ryan

Having seen the movie I was curious about how closely it hewed to the book. It turns out to have been a surprisingly close telling that captured the feel of the book well.

The book itself has the same feel as Cheaper By the Dozen, if that family's father had been an alcoholic, putting them always one contest win away from abject poverty. It is also a look back at small town life in the 1950s and 60s.

Evelyn Ryan's story is woven through the humorous tales of raising ten children. She parlayed her writing skill and determination into enough income to overcome one financial crisis after another. Ryan did this in a way unique to the time, by entering numerous jingle-writing contests, and submitting poems and humorous stories to publications. Many of these are scattered through the text and they almost serve as a mini-history of product contests.

Along the way Ryan taught her family a precious lesson about how to live a full, rich life no matter your economic status. Author Terry Ryan, one of the daughters of the family, pulls off telling a positive, upbeat story without denying the reality and severity of the trials that had to be overcome.
At that moment we knew that as long as we used our brains, we were not victims. By striking out to write our own ticket, we would grow up to be like our mother, winners.
I listened to the audio book and enjoyed it. I've seen people complain about the narration as over the top and too enthusiastic but I don't agree. I thought the straight forward feel perfectly reflected the tone of the book.

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