New memoir details the struggles of a single parent living on a farm in northern Michigan

Jul 3, 2013

One of the best things about sharing each other's stories is how we can learn from each other.

And especially as Michigan has weathered the Great Recession, so many people in our state have had to face challenging periods, times when money was tight when you dreaded finding another past-due notice in the mailbox or phone call from a creditor.

Then factor in the challenges of being a single parent trying to raise a family and stretch a dollar.

That's the story Mardi Jo Link shares in her new book: "Bootstrapper: A Memoir. From Broke to Badass on a Northern Michigan Farm," published by Knopf.

“I’ve always had that stubborn streak, but I was raised in suburbia with two very doting and working parents, and I had a pretty average, pretty wonderful childhood, so that was all very new to me,” Link said about her experience living hand-to-mouth.

During that difficult year in her life, Link worked as a freelance writer and editor, and used most of that money to pay the mortgage. She said if she had known just how hard that year was going to be, she would have tried to do something else.

“When you’re living it, you just take things as they come, you just deal with them as they arrive. It just so happened that in that year an awful lot of things arrived.”

Link admits that she was too stubborn and proud to ask for help from her ex-husband or parents, so no one knew about their struggles. At the time, her sons believed that they were having an adventure.

“I said ‘if we can do it month to month, month to month, I can outlast it.’ And I think essentially that’s what we did,” she said. “We did suffer, and there were times when I was really afraid for our future, but we outlasted it.”

Link hopes that her book will teach people to stop pigeonholing the "working poor."

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Listen to the full interview above.