Renee's Reviews > The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan
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Oct 31, 09


The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is the biography of Evelyn Ryan written by her daughter Terry (child #6). She was a wife and mother of ten children in the 'contest era' of the 1950s and 1960s. When I think of a families from then I imagine Leave it to Beaver but Evelyn's family was not as idyllic as a TV family. Evelyn's husband was an alcoholic and abusive; never seeming to make enough money to raise his large family in small town America.
Evelyn converted to Catholicism when she married her husband as was the norm in that era but I didn't get the feeling that their faith was an every day part of their lives. The children attended Catholic schools through 8th grade. Evelyn talked to her parish priest when she had troubles with her husband but again as was the norm in those days (not just for Catholics) she was counseled to stay in an abusive situation.
The book focuses on how Evelyn won contest after contest writing jingles in order to keep her family from being giftless at holidays, homeless when her husband took out a second mortgage on the house and just sometimes just keep food on the table and utilities turned on. She certainly had a gift and I'm sure her children are thankful for her creativity since it provided so many necessities in their lives over the years.
I enjoyed the story but I tended to skip over the endless jingles that were part of the narrative. Since the author is just a few years older than my own mother was in the same era, I wondered if some of their experiences were similar. I wouldn't think of this book as a Catholic book but rather a biography about someone who happened to be Catholic.

Thank you to the Tiber River review program for providing me with this book for reading and reviewing.
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