I loved this book on so many levels.
First off, the story of Terry Ryan's mother, Evelyn, and her talent for contesting and, indeed, for living life and rising above challenges is heartwarming. Then again, you've got a vivid, if understated, portrayal of what many Catholic families faced in the '50's when living with an abusive alcoholic. There was virtually no support. A woman was to "put up and shut up." And yet Terry, AKA "Tuffy," does not appear to be bitter about her dad, but rather grateful, another testimony to the grace of her mother.
I enjoyed reading this book. I remember the juggle contests of the 1950s and 1960s. Evelen Ryan was a typical housewife of her time. She stayed home raising her kids, taking pride in her home and family. She kept her family from poverty with her poetry and contesting. Somehow her jingle winnings always arrived just in time to keep food on the table or shoes on her children's feet. She won sewing machines, washers and dryers, dancing shoes, roller skates, trips and, of course, money. She once provided Christmas for all the children from the things in her prize closet. That's where she kept all the prizes she won. This book is an enjoyable read and I hope you have an opportunity to read it.
This was an excellent book. I read it before the movie came out. The movie, by the way, was a very good representation of the book.