Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha (Amazon Link)
Description: Just as the Great Recession was easing in some parts of the country, Jennifer McGaha experienced an economic crisis of epic proportions. Her home was in foreclosure; she had $4.57 in the bank; and worst of all, she had recently discovered that she and her accountant husband owed four years of back taxes to the state of North Carolina and the IRS. And then things got really bad…
Flat Broke with Two Goats takes readers on a wild adventure from a Cape Cod-style home in the country to a hundred-year-old, mice-infested, snake-ridden cabin in a North Carolina holler. With self-effacing humor and unflinching honesty, Jennifer chronicles the joys and difficulties of living close to nature, and in the process she comes to discover the true meaning of home.
Genre: Nonfiction - Memoir
Why I Picked This Book: The title caught my eye and I love "getting it together after it falls apart" style memoirs and this sounded like one of those.
My Impression: There are more than two goats in this brutally honest yet easy to relate to and incredibly human memoir. There's also chickens, dogs of various sizes, mice, and even the occasional snake - poisonous or otherwise. The last two were neither on purpose or particularly welcome but are unavoidable in the country.
But the story doesn't start out with goats. The story starts out with almost empty-nesters scrambling to keep their suburban private school life going as the Jenga style tower that was their financial health begins to teeter. And McGaha isn't taking this with a relaxed optimistic attitude. She's blindsided, thoroughly stunned and seriously and understandably angry. She doesn't embrace the whole going back to nature journey with joy and optimism convinced that everything will be unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes when a character is resistant to something that seems so mandatory to the reader I find myself becoming annoyed and impatient with the character but this was never the case here. Instead I was was right with her the whole way. The panicked feeling when she finds a very live copperhead in the dining room, the rage when all she wants is a hot shower but can't have one because the fire in the boiler hasn't been lit - I could completely and wholeheartedly understand just why she felt that way and I'm pretty sure I would have had very similar reactions.
The book is told mostly in the present with the occasional flashbacks to the past - sometimes to her own life and sometimes examining what she remembered about her grandparents and great-grandparents who lived a life very similar to the one she suddenly finds herself living. The addition of the farm animals - first chickens then goats - was fascinating and incredibly informative. Turns out no part of me wants to own chickens or goats - especially a male goat - but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the ends and outs about how you go about acquiring them and taking care of them.
This is a fascinating, eye opening, and thoroughly entertaining memoir about what happened to a couple when the bottom completely fell out of their lives. Reading the last page felt like the end of a conversation with a friend and I'll be looking for more from McGaha in the future.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely! I'm already curious to know what's happening with Willow, Holly and the rest of the herd!
Would I Recommend this Book? I would! If you enjoy memoirs I think you'd enjoy this one.