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The Mighty Queens of Freeville: Q&A With Amy Dickinson—’Ask Amy’—and Book Giveaway!

[Congratulations to Natalie Tucker Miller. Look for a new giveaway soon!] Just hitting the New York Times best-seller list, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them (225 pages, 2009, Hyperion) is an affectionate, witty memoir by Chicago Tribune advice columnist Amy Dickinson (”Ask Amy”). We know you’re going to enjoy this book, girlfriends! It’s an inspiring read about accepting oneself, prevailing in the face of failures, and doing it all supported by a band of women who can’t get enough of each other. From celebrating her “dorkitude” to pondering “Livestock in the Kitchen,” Dickinson is endearingly candid as she tells the story of being a single mother to daughter Emily, finding herself professionally, and realizing the ultimate happy ending. This is a book you’ll want to grab for a book club or pass among your girlfriends group. For a chance to a get a free copy, see the end of this post. But first, read our interview with the author. Imagine our thrill at having our own personal chance to “Ask Amy” about female friendship! She graciously dished with us about the Mighty Queens, how to make friends, what she wants women to learn from her book, and more. And yes, she was every bit as nice, warm and bubbly as you’d imagine!

Q. Who are the Mighty Queens of Freeville, and what makes them mighty?

A. Well, my daughter assigned this [title], ironically, to my mother and my aunts because, of course, we live in this cruddy little town, so it was originally an ironic title, and we laughed about it, but then, I think it became true. And one of the things I realized after I finished writing the book was that Emily and I had assumed our place in the hierarchy. And so, the Mighty Queens are the women in my world who know and love us, who nurture and support us, who laugh at our jokes. It’s sort of about being appreciated, on the one hand; on the other hand, they are in charge of their own destiny. All of these women were single mothers raising kids. They are independent, they’re smart, they’re snappy, they’re funny, and they take care of one another. That’s what passes for royalty around here. 

Q. Most of the women in your book are related to you. For people who don’t have a really strong family base, can girlfriends fill that role? 

A. Of course. For most of my professional life, I haven’t lived near my family and so I’ve relied very much on [girlfriends]. When I moved to Chicago from Washington, I didn’t know a soul, Emily didn’t know a soul, and one of the things that happened over the first two years of our living there was that I hooked up with these middle-aged, single women at work. We all realized that we were single, and we were great and fun, and we did stuff together every weekend. Movies, dinner, you know, just spent time together and Emily got to see that. She got to see me make friends, which is pretty hard to do. 

Q. Readers often ask us, “how can I make some new girlfriends?” especially when they’ve moved to a new city.

A. It’s really hard work. It’s somewhat like dating. My closest women friends are all women who have approached me. I remember my friend Nancy, when our kids were in first grade, she literally walked up to me the second or third day of school and said, “okay, you seem like the cool mom. I’m Nancy…” It was a really very open, “hey, let’s be friends” kind of thing, which was fantastic. I love that she did that. I was very responsive to it. And I learned from that. Then my closest friend, Gay, was the director of my daughter’s nursery school and she sort of did that. She was like, “Oh, we need to be friends,” and I said okay.

Q. In your daily advice column, you often give advice about friendship. Can you share any friendship wisdom with us? 

A. I’ll share two things  that come to mind. Friends get to tell each other the truth. This was a real lesson for me, because I had a friend who told me something that was very tough…I actually don’t even remember what it was, but I remember how she did it. She said, “Look, friends tell each other the truth.” Anybody can lie to you, but your friends are the ones who will tell you the truth, because they’ll be there afterwards, for the consequences. That’s huge. And another one is, friends apologize. This is something that a lot of us forget to do. We feel that when we’re really close to people, they’ll understand, or enough time will pass, or we’ll just move on. I now believe very much in apologies. It’s so much less time-consuming than sort of waiting for people to get over things. 

Q. What do you want women to learn from your book?

A. That’s a really great question! I want women to learn to celebrate their friendships, celebrate their relationships. Call your mom. Look around and see who in your life you can nurture. One of the things I’ve learned as an advice columnist is when we’re having a tough time, it’s a little bit counterintuitive, but you have to learn to do two things. You have to let other people help you. But you also should look for somebody you can help. And that’s sort of the spirit of this book. And, accept your failures and mistakes. Celebrate the quirky things about you that make you different from other people.  

Q. What is your favorite thing to do with girlfriends?

A. My cousin and my sister and I went to Yosemite together and we spent five days riding bikes, hiking, drinking wine, and I would do that twice a year with other women. It was really fun and thrilling and beautiful. I also love to walk, and my friend Gay and I always take really long walks when we’re together. I’m not much for spas, I don’t like to do the shopping thing, so it pretty much involves being outdoors.

Amy Dickinson writes the syndicated “Ask Amy” advice column which appears in more than 150 newspapers nationwide including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. Amy hosts a biweekly feature on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and serves as a featured panelist on NPR’s popular game show Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! Formerly a columnist for Time magazine, Amy lives in Chicago and in Freeville, New York. Her first book, The Mighty Queens of Freeville, The: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them, was published in February 2009. For more information, visit

Photo of Amy Dickinson ©Brasco Productions.

Okay, girlfriends, want to win a free hardcover copy of this book? There are three ways to enter this giveaway: 

1. Subscribe to our weekly emails (new subscribers only). Click here to do so. Remember, you will receive a confirmation email and you must confirm to be entered.

2. Leave a comment telling why you want this book. Or, dish about the Mighty Queens in your own life!

3. Tweet or blog about this contest and leave a comment telling us. 

This contest will remain open until 11:59 P.M. CST on Wednesday, March 4, 2009. Only U.S. shipping addresses are eligible to win. Good luck! 



  1. I knew this would be a fun book to win and read when I read that it was about some women who lived in “a cruddy little town.” Honestly, haven’t we all? So yeah, this could be about me and my family, or any number of friends who are also from cruddy little towns.

    And yet, there is a bond that goes beyond the cruddiness, and I bet this book has that common thread as well. ;-D

    Comment by Carmen in Oregon — February 25, 2009 @ 6:27 pm

  2. Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the interview and have the book beside my nightable. I happen to know one of the Queens so I really can’t wait to read it!!


    Comment by Irene — February 25, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  3. Would love a copy of this book. We all need girlfriends in our life. I wish I would have seen this when I was younger….I pretty much didn’t want anyone knowing any intimate details about me. Now I have a lot of friends but none of them have known me my whole life or where I come from.

    Comment by Cher — February 25, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  4. This is a great interview…what an awesome topic! I love to read and as a matter of fact picked up The One Year Woman’s Friendship Devotional yesterday.

    I tweeted and subscribed!

    Comment by DuongSheahan — February 26, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  5. My girlfriends mean the world to me. The ones who tell me like it is, who let me cry on their shoulders, who allow me to comfort them, who laugh with me until we pee our pants (almost!), these are the women whom I cherish and celebrate. Thank you, HG, for offering this book that honors and celebrates the friendships in our lives.

    Comment by Michele — February 27, 2009 @ 11:39 am

  6. I am already subscribed, I love and save all your updates…

    Comment by pamela — February 27, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  7. If it where not for my girlfriends my life would be so boring, I can confide in them thru the good and the bad, great interview I would love to be able to read this book I am really crossing my fingers on this one.

    Comment by pamela — February 27, 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  8. I tweeted

    Comment by pamela — February 27, 2009 @ 5:45 pm

  9. what wonderful women – this looks like a fun read! :)

    Comment by Valerie M — February 27, 2009 @ 7:35 pm

  10. Comment by Valerie M — February 27, 2009 @ 7:36 pm

  11. I would love this. I have been wanting to move to a new city, and making new friends isin’t always easy. It’s hard to trust people. I’d love to win. I heart reading!

    Comment by Ashley — February 28, 2009 @ 1:59 am

  12. I would love this book. I had so many great girlfriends in AZ and now that I have moved to GA, it’s hard to make new ones. We all need need girlfriends!

    Comment by Sandy M — March 2, 2009 @ 11:11 am

  13. I tweeted!

    Comment by Sandy M — March 2, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  14. Mother,Daughter and the Friends that Held our Hands. This was a title I came up with when I decided to write my book which has not even begun to happen. I was too a single parent, moved from friends when daughter was 16 and then had to move again when daughter was 18.She at that time liked her new friends and boyfriend more than her mom.I know the heartache of leaving friends that raised me and i still miss them terribly. Would LOVE to win your book but will definitely read. Thank you. Ronda House

    Comment by Ronda House — March 2, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

  15. This looks like a fabulous read and the line “prevailing in the face of failures” caught my eye! And my daughter is an up and coming fiction writer, so I have a duty to support the arts. ;-)

    Also tweeting about this!


    Comment by Natalie Tucker Miller — March 3, 2009 @ 7:27 pm

  16. I love my girl friends! Being a single mom, I plan a monthly girls outing for my single and not single girl friends. We leave the kiddies, if we have them, home, and go out for lunch, a movie, a shopping spree or whatever! I plan them monthly so if someone can’t make it one month, they catch up the next! We always have a blast and I’m the queen of the camera so lots of pics are taken to remember our fun times!

    Comment by Becky — March 4, 2009 @ 8:41 am

  17. Always looking for ways to expand that circle of girlfriends….Would love to read this book.

    Comment by Sandy — March 4, 2009 @ 10:06 am

  18. I would love to win and read this book. I am just completing a divorce and have lost a lot of my female gal pals. I am working at regaining these friendships and bonds. I can’t live without them. Thanks for sharing this book with us! Hugs and Blessings, Debbie

    Comment by Debbie — March 4, 2009 @ 11:53 am

  19. As the winner of Amy’s book, first let me say “thank you”!

    Portions of the book take place in geographical areas in which I am very familiar and she has captured these places with the tenderness and understanding only someone who’s been there can.

    Her strength, wit, honesty, vulnerability and wisdom are the threads that weave through this beautiful account of a life lived in emotional opulence.

    Comment by Natalie Tucker Miller — April 5, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

  20. Emotional opulence – wow! That’s quite a turn of phrase there! Natalie, thank you for taking the time to come back and let us know how you liked the book. I really enjoyed it myself. I admire Amy as someone who seems perfectly comfortable with herself and affectionately warm toward others. I can only aspire to the wisdom she seems to radiate!

    Comment by Dawn — April 5, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

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