May 26, 2010
About a month ago I was contacted by Trish Collins of TLC Book Tours with the request to do a book review of Coop by Michael Perry. My review would then be a part of a TLC's virtual book tour.
Just so you know I was not paid for this review (wouldn't that be cool though if I were) but I did receive the paperback for free.
After agreeing to do the review I worried a bit that I might not like the book and then what would I say? I hate to say discouraging things about something and don't have time to spend looking for all the positives in a book that's mostly trash. If I don't like a book I simply stop reading it.
I was so relieved this wasn't the case with Coop. I couldn't put it down. What really floored me was how Trish pegged me so well in sending this kind of book my way. How do marketers do that? How do they know you so well? It's kind of scary.
What's not to like about this book? In short, it's the real life story of the author and his wife starting a part-time homestead in rural Wisconsin. I say part-time because as the author admits, writing is his bread and butter and the homesteading gig does not provide for all their family's needs.
But it did provide some pigs, a big garden, a place to raise children and chickens and a lot of cool stories.
Stories of homebirth, homeschooling, sleepless nights with infants and the intensity of raising children - these are things I identify with. And although I can't relate at all to building chicken coops and pig pens, I understand the desire to do so. To feed your family from the labor of your own hands.
But Perry's story is about so much more than building a homestead. At its core this book is about family. And I'm an absolute sucker for family life. As Perry writes stories about his own adult life he shares with us his unique and wonderful (by my measure and his) upbringing.
What was really refreshing about this aspect of the book was Perry's absolute respect, love and admiration for his parents and fond memories of his own childhood, which was quite unconventional.
Perry was raised by loving, devout, and honest fundamentalist Christians. And in spite of not practicing religion in the manner of his upbringing he doesn't disparage his parents for being who they are. It seems the main reason for this is that Perry truly values his upbringing. His parents took to heart the bible's command to care for the orphans and at last count have helped lovingly raise fifty or sixty children, many of them disabled, on a farmer's income. How can you not respect that?
Maybe it was his upbringing or the fact that his parents would probably read the book (they are bibliophiles) but for whatever reason this is one of the "cleanest" books I've read in a long time. To be sure there is a lot of good story in here, great character revelations and some very heartbreaking parts. Somehow though Perry manages to tell a really good story, his story, without all the filth that usually accompanies many modern memoirs.
Michael Perry seems like the kind of guy you'd want living next door. Or the next farm over. Good guy. Loves his wife, loves his kids, loves his family, the farm and his community. I don't get the sense in reading the book he was trying to convey that message about himself (he's quite humble really and readily admits his shortcomings) but that overall impression was just the icing on the cake for me.
I almost forgot to add (the book is already passed on to my mother so I'm going from memory here) there was one section I didn't particular like. Perry likes machinery and farm equipment. An endearing quality, reminds me of my uncles and grandfather. But halfway through the book, when he goes into a rather in-depth story about haying and all the mechanics involved, my eyes glossed over. I skipped a few pages at that point. I'm sure the poetry of machinery speaks to some, I am not one of those persons. Other than that brief episode the book was hard for me to put down.
Good stories. Great author. Wonderful book.
PS. I haven't read any other reviews on this book. I wanted to give my perspective without being influenced by other's opinions. If you are interested in how other people experienced this book you can read more reviews at TLC Book Tours.
PPS. Michael Perry also has a blog, sneezingcow.com, that's very personal and down homey. Perry is a musician, as well as writer, and if his music is an earnest as his writing it's probably worth a listen.
Photos in this post were all taken at "our" farm (where we have our csa share) through the various seasons over the past couple years.
Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.
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Erin on May 26, 2010, 8:06 p.m.
Your blog looks great and the photographs are beautiful. I thought you might be interested in this - 5 ways to turn your backyard into a playground! http://www.bunchfamily.ca/turn-backyard-playground
Alisha on May 26, 2010, 8:27 p.m.
Oooh! Great review! I'm going to be looking for this now. Sounds very, very up my alley. And thanks for the blog address. I'm going to be looking him up shortly. :)
Francesca on May 28, 2010, 10:08 a.m.
Ok, another book for my wish list!
nicola@which name? on May 29, 2010, 1:45 a.m.
Oh, I am eager to read this. At the title I was surprised at it being a hit with you given your non-egg status, but as I read on, I understood why! nicola
trish on June 5, 2010, 4:19 a.m.
I'm so glad you liked this book! My job here is done. :) I don't always peg people right for the books I'm working on, but sometimes I get it spot on. Glad that was the case here. Thanks for being on this tour! You wrote a really fascinating review.