Book Review: Rurally Screwed by Jessie Knadler

Rurally Screwed by Jessie Knadler
Rurally Screwed by Jessie Knadler

Rurally Screwed My Life Off The Grid With The Cowboy I Love is a well written and thoroughly engaging memoir by Jessie Knadler.  Jessie grew up in Montana and spent her childhood wanting to live somewhere else.  She moved to New York the first chance she got.  In New York she worked as a fashion editor for a well known magazine.  She lived the New York lifestyle, went to parties and clubs, and attended yoga classes.  She found that the writing she did for the magazine wasn't fulfilling and at one point realized she was in a "professional death spiral."  After living the New York lifestyle, she was no longer enamored with the experience. 

So at thirty years old, not happy in her job, and feeling stuck in New York, she went back to Montana on a magazine assignment to cover a rodeo where she met a good looking cowboy named Jake.  Jake is very different from the men she knows in New York.  He's an honest, straight talking Christan cowboy who attends church on Sundays, reads the bible and prays before meals.  After only one weekend with Jake, Jessie falls for him and she falls hard.

After covering the rodeo, she returns to New York and Jake remains in Montana.  They exchange letters and phone calls and spend a year and a half apart while Jake serves in Iraq as part of the reserves.  When he returns, she decides to marry Jake and move with him to Virginia.  With "an open heart and an open mind" she throws herself into a completely new and rural way of life.  She has eight acres of property to take care of.  She learns to raise and slaughter chickens.  She plants a huge vegetable garden and learns to can.  She also learns to sew and attends a women's bible study group.  For her, moving to a rural lifestyle outside of Manhattan is like living in a different country and at first, she enjoys all the new and novel experiences such as shopping at Walmart.

Although she attempts to have a positive outlook on her new way of life, she struggles with not having much money and not making any money of her own.  In New York she was an independent woman and she struggles with feeling so dependent on her husband.  She was also lonely much of the time while her husband worked long hours.

In her new life, Jessie learns to be a new kind of independent woman.  She chops her own firewood and raises her own food, but she also learns how to be honest with herself as well as with her husband.  She had to choose to accept and to be happy with the life that she'd chosen even when it was difficult.  And there were many times when it was truly difficult.  The winters were cold with only a wood burning stove to keep the house warm.  There were long days of hard work.  There were times when she admired the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of her friends and neighbors and other times when she really disliked their hillbilly ways, though she realizes "the only difference between do-it-yourself living and living like hillbilly was one's perception."

I really enjoyed reading Jessie Knadler's Rurally Screwed.  It's evident how deeply she loves Jake by the way she writes about him.  I enjoyed her writing style and the personal insights she shared.  Jessie Knadler also has a blog by the same name in which she continues her story of living rurally and off the grid.


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