The Summer of Ordinary Ways: A Memoir

The Summer of Ordinary Ways A Memoir Practicing baseball with Dad then watching him go after a cow with a pitchfork in a fit of rage Playing chicken on the county road with semi trucks full of hogs Flirting with the milkman Chasing with

  • Title: The Summer of Ordinary Ways: A Memoir
  • Author: Nicole Helget
  • ISBN: 9780873515887
  • Page: 137
  • Format: Paperback
  • Practicing baseball with Dad, then watching him go after a cow with a pitchfork in a fit of rage Playing chicken on the county road with semi trucks full of hogs Flirting with the milkman Chasing with your sisters after Wreck and Bump, mangy mutts who prowl farmsteads killing chickens and drinking fuel oil Dandelion wine The ghost of a girl buried alive over a centuryPracticing baseball with Dad, then watching him go after a cow with a pitchfork in a fit of rage Playing chicken on the county road with semi trucks full of hogs Flirting with the milkman Chasing with your sisters after Wreck and Bump, mangy mutts who prowl farmsteads killing chickens and drinking fuel oil Dandelion wine The ghost of a girl buried alive over a century ago These unforgettable, sometimes hilarious images spill from a fierce and wondrous childhood into the pages of The Summer of Ordinary Ways Helget wrings intensity from the seemingly mundane a family farm, the kitchen, a sleepy Midwestern town to recreate a past that lives on somewhere between a dream and a nightmare In The Summer of Ordinary Ways, every detail is authentic and resonant, every moment feels lived Helget s debut is nothing short of remarkable Rosellen Brown, author of Tender Mercies Marvelous, vibrant, and full of gritty energy, carrying the reader on a breathless ride across hills and valleys of pain, humor, and redemption Faith Sullivan, author of The Cape Ann Written with blistering beauty, this fierce memoir is an elegy for broken spirits human and animal and a prayer for those able to face their past Bart Schneider, author of Beautiful Inez After Helget lulls you with the simplicity so often mistakenly ascribed to country life, she takes your breath away with the sheer power and poetry of her emotional integrity Booklist starred review In precise, cadenced prose, this gifted young author has taken the messiest of lives and fashioned something beautiful People magazine Critic s Choice, four stars Nicole Lea Helget studies and teaches at Minnesota State University Mankato She is the winner of the 2004 Speakeasy Prize for Prose This is her first book.

    • The Summer of Ordinary Ways: A Memoir : Nicole Helget
      137 Nicole Helget
    • thumbnail Title: The Summer of Ordinary Ways: A Memoir : Nicole Helget
      Posted by:Nicole Helget
      Published :2019-07-10T14:35:08+00:00

    About " Nicole Helget "

  • Nicole Helget

    Born in 1976, Nicole Helget grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota, a childhood and place she drew on in the writing of her memoir, The Summer of Ordinary Ways She received her BA and an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato Based on the novel s first chapter, NPR s Scott Simon awarded The Turtle Catcher the Tamarack Prize from Minnesota Monthly.

  • 528 Comments

  • This was a completely random library pick up.I seriously grabbed it while searching for another memoir, because the title and cover struck my fancy.This memoir is what I would call a poetic memoir.I seem to be reading an awful lot of "poetic" books latelyI kinda like that.Yes, she had a dysfunctional childhood. (like most memoirs)The oldest of six girls, growing up on a dairy farm in the mid-um, west in the 1980s.It was told not completely in sequence, with just a dozen or so snippets of her c [...]


  • The controversy surrounding this book and "A Million Little Pieces" (which I have not read) can be credited for helping me acknowledge the fickle conundrum of memory - mine and others. This was a wonderfully written memoir. I can believe what she says because the people are true to rural central Minnesota. However, no one will ever know what is really the truth. Families have secrets. Some people prefer to air them. Some people don't. Some people create memories that don't exist for many reasons [...]


  • Why would I, a 72-year old male from "out east," read this memoir of a farm girl from Sleepy Eye, Minnesota? Well, my wife of 51 years was raised a German Catholic in New Ulm, the next town over from Sleepy Eye, and she said the book showed how little things changed in the 35 years or so between her childhood and the author's. So I piicked it up, expecting to read ten pages and get back to books more in my fields of interest. I was wrong. This is a short memoir, nicely written and often quite en [...]


  • Since the author had local ties, I read this book with curiosity and some fascination. It is not a congruent story, more or less vignettes of one summer of her life growing up. There was controversy and protest from some of her family members when this book was first released as the book is not flattering to some of them. Intrestingly enough, her father who was very unfavorably depicted, said he was proud of her and didn't protest or deny his part in the story. He seemed to say at that time that [...]


  • This book is a memoir of essays focusing on Helget's upbringing on a dairy farm in Minnesota. Some passages were difficult to read due to spousal abuse and graphic, extreme physical abuse to animals. If you're sensitive to descriptions of abuse I would strongly recommend skipping this book. Some essays were heartbreaking, others simple, all beautifully written. Uplifting? No. A touching observation of an ordinary life? Absolutely. Probably deserves 3-1/2 stars.


  • I loved this book. There were a lot of parts that were really hard to read, but the emotion in the words was brutally honest. I,too, grew up on a farm in small town Minnesota. I have never read a book that I could relate to more, and I probably never will unless I write my own story down. Helget's choice of words for describing Minnesota farm life in the 80s is spot on. I'm so glad that she shared her story and that I found this book. Such an emotional read.


  • This book was painful to read at times (her dad's an alcoholic; beats a cow to death), but it is so beautifully written. She is very frank about the harsh times she went through, but it's easy to read simply because of the beautiful, lyrical prose she writes. She's around the same age as I am and I could really relate to some things, but she had a heck of a childhood that I'm glad I didn't have to live through.


  • This book BLEW ME AWAY! When I first started reading it, I put it down in disgust. It was way too dark, gory, violent, and depressing. I am so glad I gave it another chance and read further. This book is a stark portrait of human nature, from the most depraved cruelty imaginable to the impossible depths of familial love and friendship. Horrific, yet uplifting. Emotionally raw. Painfully and beautifully honest. I would recommend it to anyone with a strong stomach.



  • In spite of its concise, fast paced writing, this is definitely a difficult, though striking, work. The picture of life in rural Minnesota painted by Nicole Helget is not pretty one and, though it contains its own beauty depicting the Minnesota River valley, it is a bleak and isolated world, beset with cruelty and despair. It is a world alien to me, living a hundred or so miles north in the urban Twin Cities, formed by the state’s largest city and capital respectively. In spite of the power of [...]


  • It will be interesting to compare this story of growing up in rural Minnesota with The Cape Ann, which I read earlier, and Lake Wobegon Summer 1956, which I am reading next. The Cape Ann was sad, but parts of this book were disturbing. Memoirs are often exaggerated, still I know that even if these events are not exactly "true", they are true for somebody somewhere. I expect that women in all times and ages have felt lives of quiet despair, trapped in the seemingly endless cycle of childbirth and [...]


  • This book was disturbing though relatively inspiring and enlightening as well. What a strange life this little girl lived. It never ceases to amaze me to see the strange ways that culture of our childhood homes (e.g environment, temperament, religious affliation/involvement, and certainly geography) can shape our adulthood. I particular enjoyed the questions Colie began asking herself questions how those religious litanies and parental explosions would affect her and even her children if no one [...]


  • I read this a few years ago, so I won't say much, but it's one of those books I would never give away. It will be on my shelf until I die. In fact, I wouldn't give away any of her books. I live in Minnesota too, and this happened: I met a woman at a kid's soccer game and she told me where she lived. At that time I had just read this book, and I knew Nicole Helget was from that town too. Can't remember the name of the town. Southwestern Minnesota. So I asked, "Did you know Nicole Helget?" And thi [...]


  • An xmas gift from my friend KC, to remind me of my years in small-town Minnesota. This is reminiscent of Haven Kimmel's memoirs. Girl growing up in small town, struggling with the confines of every person around her knowing every detail of her life, and her mother's life, and her grandmother's, and her entire family's. Helgett, however, has it a lot worse off than Kimmel; her family is all kinds of fucked up. Reminded me of Alexandra Fuller's "Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight" as well. Where s [...]


  • This book started off with a bang. The first chapter was magnificent and I thought I'd read this book in a couple of days. But further into the book it slows down and there are several chapters devoted to dark side of growing up on a rural farm - plenty of animal killings (including puppies being shot) and long graphic details which I have little stomach for. I know these things happen. I choose not to read about them for chapters at a time. Having said that - her writing is excellent and for an [...]


  • Just started it, but this book is a memoir by a woman from Sleepy Eye. She currently lives in Mankato. There was actually a lot of press about this book because it won an award and then her family spoke out and created a bunch of drama saying she was exaggerating (and this was less than a year after the Million Little Pieces controversy). The argument I believe is over her alcoholic, abusive father. So far I think her writing is good, and I'm naturally interested because it's about growing up on [...]


  • To put it bluntly, this book kicks you in the nuts and never looks back. Nicole Helget recalls her childhood growing up on a farm in Minnesota. She is the first of six daughters born to a mother with melancholy and an alcoholic father with rage disorder. With every new chapter, you hope something good will come of her experience only to find that yet again something tragic, gruesome, disturbing has happened. I suspect this story was ghost written by "Debbie Downer" (of SNL fame). I sincerely hop [...]


  • I'm still "chewing" on this one. I'll come up with a review after I give myself a little time to fully digest. This memoir hits very close to home. All the names are familiar as the setting is a small town not 7 miles from where I live. I've been to or by all the places mentioned in this memoir. I moved to the area about 5 years after the majority of the memoir's stories are set. A lot of ugly stuff in this memoir. But there is a lot of beauty, too. I just have to think on it for a bit.


  • Readable but a somewhat dark memoir of growing up rurally in Minnesota. Both the parents are a bit disturbed or have a hard time coping with a hard life, so the family is dysfunctional. The author is the oldest in a family of 6 girls. There is some animal cruelty so don't read it if you are sensitive to that. I'm always interested in how people become who they are, so I'm attracted to memoirs, but I don't think I'll read it again. The writing is great though and somewhat poetic.


  • Beautifully, artfully written book.I really enjoyed the cadence of the book, each chapter intertwined an event in the author's childhood with another event or topic that the author was coming to terms with. Absolutely loved the ghost story (middle of book). The last chapter was particularly powerful.As always the problems with depression, alcoholism and an unhappy marriage make the book a bit painful to read.


  • Okay, maybe this one shouldn't get 4 stars, but I could totally relate to the author because it is written where I grew up and I had the same experiences and feelings - I went to that religious camp, I had watch while injured kittens were killed, I went out to the haunted place on a date, and I had to kneel in my living room during Lent and pray the rosary (I really think the Reichels are the Peichels and she heard about this)


  • Publishers Weekly said her words sing. They are right. The chapter describing the fire of the summer of 1993 is a prime example. I felt like I was there, I felt the fear. Helget writes of her hugely dysfunctional family in a beautifully lyrical style that makes you want to keep reading. She's lucky that she got out of this family, this childhood, this life, alive. Dayum. Farm life is hard. It's harder when your parents are crazy as hell.


  • I REALLY enjoy Ms. Helget's writings. We share some similar experiences having grown up in the Minnesota River Valley, plus a German heritage. I read her 2nd book, "The Turtle Catcher," before reading this one, which is her first. I have to say I'm glad I started with "The Turtle Catcher." This one is good, but it may not have inspired me to read "The Turtle Catcher," which I loved.


  • I started out feeling a little unsure about this book. It was good, kind of your typical memoir. I liked the Minnesota connections and I found the stories about farm life both intriguing and very disturbing. The last chapter of the book just blew me away. I could read it over and over again, I think.


  • I am honored to have attended grad school with Nicole Helget and workshop her writing. Ever since I've met her I have been mezmerized by her writing; it is magic to me. There is no explanation for it; I think she is just blessed with the "gift of genius" as Terry Davis would say. The Summer of Ordinary Ways is captivating.


  • Wow! This was one disturbing memoir. Just reading about the killing of the cow and the puppies was enough to turn me off. I realize it's a memoir and it's how the author remembered things but some things may be better off not said. The story seemed very choppy and disjointed. Hard to tell time passage. And playing chicken with semis! Yikes.You really wonder how they survived. .


  • This book had quite a bit of cruelty to animals, which is difficult for me to read; I skimmed these parts which in some case carried me too quickly I'm sure through the book which otherwise was still very sad. Catholicism, farm life, ignorance, miscarriages, too many children, post-partum and just plain crazy depression is sad and depicted pretty poetically here.


  • This book is dark and difficult to read. I appreciate the authors willingness to write about abuse which is so often kept hidden. It was interesting to read about a life so different from my own having grown up at the same time and near the same place.


  • This book is set in Minnesota, on a farm. It had some interesting passages, about a father who was complicated--sometimes so evil, other times so good, most times just sad. But when he was not in the story, there weren't any other characters that I found engaging.


  • One of my work friends grew up in the same town as the author, which made it interesting for me. But the writing is really good. She's great at small moments of clarity and has some beautiful phrasing. If you like memoirs, check this one out.


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