Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bootstrapper Jo Link begins her memoir, Bootstrapper : From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm one summer morning - drunk on her farmhouse porch, binoculars in one hand, her fourth beer in the other and a self-help book for achieving a Zen divorce open on her lap. The man she is divorcing relocated across the street, and she watches him haul 20 years of marriage accumulation to the curb. She disagrees with the "Free" sign he pounds into the ground, because "someone paid handsomely for this wreckage, and that someone is me."

Bootstrapper recounts the year following Link's divorce as she struggles to keep her family on their six acre farm. She lays claim to the debt and the dirt and, comparing their life with the phases of the moon, resolves to stay financially solvent 30 days at a time. She turns from a tree-hugger to a hunter and gatherer - including eyeing a wild turkey they hit on the road as potential dinner. She wins a zucchini contest sponsored by a local bakery for a year of free day-old bread, and she and her sons exist on eggs, bread and squash for much of the winter. She can't afford to heat with electricity, so they scour the roadside for firewood and tack plastic over the single pane windows to keep out the snow. Often, they are cold and hungry. She is cheered by the seed catalogs that arrive by mail in the spring, but the well goes out when it's time to plant. And, with no credit or collateral, she must refinance the farm to buy out her ex-husband.

Determined to stay on the farm, Link greets each challenge with innovation and tenacity which - as any farmer will tell you - is as important as water, credit or collateral. Told with wit and infused with Buddhist wisdom, Bootstrapper is a lesson on looking adversity in the eye and not blinking.

Vicki Ann

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