Pigs Can’t Swim by Helen Peppe

Source: Netgalley

A Memoir

With everything happening on Helen Peppe’s backwoods Maine farm: ferocious sibling rivalry, rock-bottom poverty, feral male chauvinism, sex in the hayloft—life was out of control, even for the animals. Despite the chaos, in telling her family’s story, Peppe manages deadpan humor, an unerring eye for the absurd, and a touching compassion for her utterly overwhelmed parents. While her feisty resilience and candor will inevitably remind readers of Jeanette Walls or Mary Karr, Peppe’s wry insight and moments of tenderness with family and animals are entirely her own.

I thought I would love this book as it is set in one of my favorite places. Sadly I have to say I didn’t really connect with this family at all. The writer just jumps right in to her ‘memoir’ without setting the stage at all. I couldn’t visualize the homestead and had a couple times I wasn’t sure what she was talking about and re-read the paragraph a couple times thinking I must have missed something. Maybe it was just me. I did chuckle a couple of times at things Mom said that are so typical of all mom’s and at how Helen as a child interpreted a situation. None of the family had names, they were referred to as things like sister that holds grudges longer than God, tough but admirable sister, blustery and favored brother, hair twirling pretty sister and a visitor that stayed with them was referred to as bullshit-artist-ass-Skipper. It got to be a mouthful when 2 or more of these people were in a paragraph. There were a couple of instances where the cruel deaths of a couple of farm animals was described that really turned my stomach and enraged me. Certainly didn’t endear the characters responsible for the deaths to me! But in the end the book did nothing for me as I just couldn’t connect to these people and didn’t care for the writing style. Sorry Ms. Peppe. 

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