This book was given to me for my review.
SPOILERS!!--Mardi Jo Link's book, Bootsrapper, is about a suddenly single woman, her three sons, and a farm. To be more specific, it is about a broke, single mother, three very charming sons, and a farm that is alternately an albatross and a Utopia.
Link begins her story with the separation from her husband, for reasons only hinted at in her journal-like recollections until further into the story. The story is hampered by vagueness at times, and I think part of it was understandably for privacy's sake. At other times, I felt that she was caught up in the weediness of too many words to describe how SHE perceived an event, forgetting that the reader needs enough details to come to see the event in the whole. I wanted to shout, "Okay! I get it, but what actually HAPPENED?"
For example, there was the incident with the horse, which was upsetting to read about. I might have been even more sympathetic toward Link's feelings, if I knew what really happened with that whole incident. While I pondered that, suddenly, there is a stray dog she's never seen before, and she calls it "a killer" and wants to "take the dog down" with a BB gun, then "finish him off" with the golf club. I abhor animal cruelty, and I was repulsed. What's more, I couldn't figure out why she came to this macabre conclusion about the animal. I went back, reread, and I still am not sure what I missed.
There were other moments in the story, when I wondered who was the adult in the family and who were the children. Some of Link's decisions were questionable, but I often felt considerable empathy for the circumstances Link was forced to make them in. Link was given a raw hand, and she just as often played it well. It is obvious that she loves her boys very much, and it is in writing about her sons that Link truly shines. Seeing her sons through her eyes, and listening to some of the things they said, was a true pleasure. The wise, the witty, and the humorous utterances of three (obviously very intelligent) boys carried the story when it might have faltered. Also, Link does have a way with language, and she can write extremely well. She has a gift, at times, of saying a lot sparingly and saying it beautifully. I think the book had a spot or two that I found repugnant, and a few where I was frustrated by her writing style, but there were a lot of beautiful, thought provoking moments in this rather slim volume, too.