Flat Broke With Two Goats: A Memoir of Appalachia – Jennifer McGaha
Release Date: January 2018
Synopsis: A charming memoir of one woman’s unexpected journey from country chic to backwoods barnyard
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.
Review: Flat Broke is April’s Big Library Read and that’s honestly the reason I picked it up. The program hasn’t been going long but I love the idea of reading the same book at the same time as thousands of other people and sharing my thoughts. And I also liked the title…I mean, how hilarious is it?! I’m also a sucker for anything Appalachia related, so I was in pretty quick.
I liked Flat Broke a lot. McGaha’s writing is quirky and she has a great sense of humor. I also really liked how the chapters were separated by recipes that corresponded to moments in the previous chapter. I’ll definitely be giving the Taco Soup a try!
Despite enjoying the book, I found it hard to sympathize with the couple. The situation they were in was, by her own admission, of their own making. So while I can empathize with owing tax money (two years in a row now, baby), I can’t with being irresponsible or too afraid to own up to it and take care of business. I did feel, however, that by the end they’d redeemed themselves and had found a balance in life they didn’t have before.
Jennifer’s relationship with her husband is understandably fraught, particularly as he’s the accountant and takes care of the financial side of their relationship. She talks about wanting to leave him and even takes a job out of state for a few months. The way their relationship fractures, heals and grows back together is probably the most powerful aspect of this book for me. I honestly don’t know if I could stay with my husband in the same situation.
Flat Broke With Two Goats almost makes me want to move off of our small town Main Street and onto a farm–even though I know I couldn’t hack it. If you’re looking for something heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting to read, give this one a go.