The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio: How my Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan
The true story of Evelyn Ryan who raised her family of six sons and four daughters is told with humor and affection by her daughter Terry. Evelyn’s husband spent much the family’s limited income on alcohol, so the enterprising Evelyn, a former journalist, chose to supplement their income by entering contests. Her winning jingles, poems and essays brought in cash, appliances and supermarket shopping sprees. “An excellent chronicle of the contest-crazy ‘50s and ‘60s,” says Booklist, “and a moving portrait of a clever, determined woman.”
*Some Questions prepared by MPL staff (http://www.manitowoc.lib.wi.us/index.htm ) and www.LitLovers.com
1. Could the events described in the book have taken place at any other time in our history?
2. Are there still contests like those mentioned in the book, today?
3. Could Evelyn survive, even triumph as she did, in today's world? Or is ours a different time with its own set of circumstances?
4. Has anybody in our group ever entered or won that type of contest?
5. How would you describe Terry Ryan's mother and the challenges she faced as wife, mother, and family breadwinner.
6. Are there any other memorable characters in the book besides Evelyn?
7. Could the family have made it without Evelyn’s winnings?
8. Do you think the author played up or down the hardships of the family?
9. Why was Evelyn so successful at winning contests?
10. What attracted Evelyn to such an unsupportive man?
11. What traits made Evelyn such a good mother?
12. How does this memoir compare to Jeannette Walls' The Glass Castle or Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes both memoirs about parenting and growing up in difficult circumstances?
13. Has anyone watched the movie? If so, how does it compare to the book? How closely does the film follow the book, especially in its characters? Does Julianne Moore capture your idea of what Evelyn was like?
14. Is Evelyn someone you would want to know or have known?
15. Were there too many or too few details?
16. Did you find this book uplifting or depressing?
17. Did you find the book humorous?
18. What are the book's strengths and weaknesses?
19. What was your favorite part?
20. What did you like or dislike about the book that hasn't been discussed already? Were you glad you read this book? Would you recommend it to a friend?