Saturday, July 06, 2013

Bootstrapper by Mardi Jo Link

If you want to read a memoir about a woman who refused to be beaten down by life, try Mardi Jo Link's Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm.Determination, hard work, and the love of a mother and sons saw Link and her boys through the toughest year of their lives.

In June 2005, after nineteen years of marriage, Mardi Jo Link and her husband called it quits. She was the one who wanted out of the failed marriage. Would she have asked him to leave if she had realized the hardship she and her sons faced in the next year? She said she was soon to be divorced, in debt, swollen-eyed, and a single mother farmer trying to hang on to the land she loved, a farm in Northern Michigan that she called Big Valley. It was named for a favorite TV show with another strong woman raising sons.

Bootstrapper is a story of courage, the courage needed to face one day after another when Link didn't know if she could pay the heating bills, pay the mortgage, feed her sons. And, it was a constant struggle. She struggled with her emotions as things went wrong, as she lost her beloved horses, faced down her pride to ask for help when she didn't want to take government assistance. But, she continued to turn in writing assignments and wait for checks. She tried to raise a hog for food, and couldn't kill it. Sometimes everything appeared to go bad at once. Sometimes, the only reason she had to go on was for the sake of her three sons. She realized "The four of us are just one swipe away from losing everything: the farm, the myth of divorce being survivable, the idea that I can protect my sons from everything. From anything."

Bootstrapper is Mardi Jo Link's story of her love of her sons and her farm, the things that kept her going during that difficult year. And, the love for Owen, Luke and Will shines through on every page. "It's one thing to inventory your blessings; it's another to care for, love, and nurture them in all the ways they deserve." 2005-2006 was a difficult time for Link and her sons. But, their survival, and the way they worked together makes for a fascinating memoir. As things went from bad to worse during that year, they clung to each other. That story of struggle, and a mother's love and effort for her sons, and with her sons, becomes a powerful, memorable account.

Mardi Jo Link's website is

Bootstrapper: From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm by Mardi Jo Link. Alfred A. Knopf. 2013. ISBN 9780307596918 (hardcover), 208p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I picked up an ARC at BEA because the book sounded interesting.


Beth Hoffman said...

I rarely read memoirs, but this one sounds powerful. Terrific review, Lesa!

Lesa said...

Thank you, Beth. It's quite an eye-opener.

Karen C said...

I agree with Beth - I rarely read memoirs, but this sounds like one I need to add to my TBR list. Thanks for your wonderful review.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Karen. Fascinating book.

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