Picks and Pans Review: Becoming 'Ask Amy'

updated 02/09/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/09/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

THE MIGHTY QUEENS OF FREEVILLE
by Amy Dickinson |

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REVIEWED BY KIM HUBBARD

MEMOIR
Plucked from semi-obscurity to replace Ann Landers, who died in 2002, Amy Dickinson suffered bouts of imposter syndrome: Who was she to give advice to the millions who read Landers' syndicated column? Her appealing new memoir credits the women in her life—mother, aunts, sisters and daughter Emily, now 20—for bequeathing her the requisite wisdom. Wisdom like "Don't call him" after her husband left her. Or "Prevailing is underrated," something she learned from seeing her own mother support four kids in tiny Freeville, N.Y., once the man of the house took off. Mighty Queens is a paean to that nurturing town and its female inhabitants, whose survival instincts the author clearly shares. Of one rough moment on the dating scene, she writes, "The architect ... rejected me for structural reasons. His exact words were, 'I don't like your body.'" That's a woman who understands the power of defusing pain with humor. Which just might be the best advice there is.

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