I love to “read” audio books when I am driving and the library has a great selection to borrow from. At the top of the listing was Flat Broke with Two Goats: A Memoir of Appalachia telling the story of a couple who had defaulted on their home after neglecting to pay 4 years of taxes. With $4.57 in the bank, they had to move to a dilapidated cabin in North Carolina. This book was permanently available as it is the book chosen for the global Big Library Read taking place from April 2 to 16th.
As the couple slowly paid their debts and reconciled their relationships they were joined in the cabin by mice and even poisonous snakes! They navigated many challenges set amongst the beautiful landscape but it was hard to think of their creditors losing out while the author, Jennifer McGaha and her spouse still had cell phones and enjoyed craft beers. While the author struggled to accept her role in their situation she pointed the blame right at her husband although she had only been working part-time and certainly would have been part of the decision to live above their means and send their children to private school. At the risk of sounding judgemental, the couple continued to make bad financial decisions spending more on veterinarians and the purchasing and care of animals than they likely saved by being self-sufficient.
While I struggled with the description of the couple’s experiences, I did enjoy the stories of the goats. Having growing up with goats (Ebony and Ivory), I know what troublemakers they can be! I remember them as escape artists, debarking a tree and wreaking havoc in my dad’s meticulously tended flower beds. I think I am still traumatized by the goat breeding experience as a tween… who knew how disgusting billy goats can behave??? Despite the education in goat relations, it was fun to watch the birth of triplets and learn that baby goats must have springs in their feet. I am grateful for living in the country with a menagerie of goats, horses, cats, dogs and chickens… although my brother might still have nightmares about the rogue rooster chasing him to the bus stop! Through my own country experiences, I can certainly reflect on the author’s learning curve and remember the gross-tasting goats milk, thin yogurt and home made oatmeal soap that my mother made!
Overall, it was an easy “read” or, shall I say listen. I appreciate the author’s honesty in telling their story and hope that the couple can use some of the proceeds from the sale of these books to make amends to their creditors and teach their children to avoid similar mistakes. I also hope that readers will gain a new appreciation for the personality of goats and the importance of living simpler in a time focused on more stuff!
Addendum – for all of my blogger friends: have you ever had an experience with negative feedback from an author after an honest review? I try very hard to be balanced and truthful in my reviews but got a negative comment from this author and was subsequently blocked from her twitter account due to my review. That seems like an odd response from someone who is trying to sell books but maybe speaks to some of the decisions described in the book. I would guess that her publisher would not support this kind of response but after reading a few other reviews on Goodreads am thinking that she might feel particularly sensitive due to many posts with VERY strong feelings about her experience and decisions.
Feel free to comment on your experiences with authors below.