Thursday, April 19, 2012

Book Review: Rurally Screwed

I've been reading Jessie Knadler's blog for about a year. I found it through the blog roll on Food in Jars and I instantly started following it, amused by the honesty and impressed by the quality (and quantity) of posts. But when I found out Jessie's autobiography, Rurally Screwed, was coming out this April, I wasn't particularly interested. For one thing, I read her blog every day. I knew all about her husband's deployment to Afghanistan, her daughter's first words, her wood burning furnace, and the college library where she did all her writing - what could possibly be in her book that I didn't already know about her? And I wasn't particularly interested in the 'city-girl from New York moves to rural Virginia to find out that hauling wood and digging ditches is hard' lesson - tell me something I don't know. Plus, it's not really my genre of reading, which is, you know, peer-reviewed archaeological literature (okay, I have read a few books in my spare time over the last four years, almost all of which are either classic romance novels, historical fiction, or historical biographies - I don't really do biographies of living people). BUT, the great reviews of Rurally Screwed just kept coming. And really, the reviews are great. So after weeks of seeing how awesome everyone else in the world thought her book was, and knowing that she is a great writer (based on her blog), I thought it might just be worth my time.

I ordered the book on Kindle for my iPhone on Tuesday. I finished it this morning. I intentionally didn't bike to school yesterday so I could have 30 min on the bus each way to read it. I stayed up til midnight last night reading and then laid awake for hours thinking about the book. It was that good. It made me laugh out loud and it made me cry; it wasn't at all what I expected.

Jessie's autobiography is her story of self-reflection and self-discovery while falling for her now husband, Jake. Their love story is both extraordinary and familiar. Extraordinary that a New York writer who spent 14 years trying to forget her Montana roots could fall in love with a happy-go-lucky cowboy who belonged on a farm. Jessie's honesty describing the trials and tribulations of her new life as a fence-builder's wife in the rural south are familiar because they were driven by her quest to be a better person for her husband - when your partner is in the garage hammering nails at 7:30 on a Sunday morning before you've even rolled over, or has the dishes done and the kitchen cleaned before you get home from work, you find yourself trying to keep up (maybe that's just familiar to me...) - but as Jessie found, we can't always change who we are. I won't ruin the entire story for you, but I will tell you that even though I knew how the book would end, I didn't anticipate almost anything that happened in the middle.

But mostly, a lot of the characteristics she used to describe her husband - hard working, optimistic, dedicated, and good with an unending supply of energy and an eery ability to work all day without taking a lunch break - reminded me of Ryan, and how lucky I am.

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