Monday, July 13, 2015

The Drummond Girls by Mardi Jo Link

If you’re like most women I know, you have some “go-to” friends.  They’re the ones you call when your son’s in a car accident and you don’t know if he’ll make it through surgery, the ones you email when you’re bursting with good news that might sound like bragging to others, and the ones who tell you that you’re being just a tiny bit bitchy when you want everyone to do things your way. If you’re lucky you’ve known these women for many years and if you’re really fortunate, you’ve taken trips with them.

Trips with “the girls” are magic. Whether they’re college reunions, visits to each other’s homes, or luxury cruises in the Greek Islands, they’re magical because you laugh until your stomach hurts, you cry when you hear what a friend you haven’t seen in years has suffered, and you become more of the real self you were when you were seven. Mardi Jo Link’s The Drummond Girls: a Story of Fierce Friendship Beyond Time and Chance is the story of Link’s annual trips with seven of her friends to tiny Drummond Island, Michigan. But really, The Drummond Girls is your story, it’s my story, and it’s the story of every strong woman I know who couldn’t make it through life without her team, her posse, her stalwart friends.

The Drummond Girls begins in 1993 as Link walks out her door:

Mothers who hand sewed their kids’ clothes, who read used Jane Austen paperbacks and stenciled checkerboards and hearts onto their kitchen cupboards, did not go away on weekend benders. Not according to my husband they didn’t.

“This one does,” I told him, tossing long underwear, a disposable camera, and a Led Zeppelin cassette tape into a denim duffel bag.

It was early October; I was a thirty-one-year-old wife and mother of two, a bar waitress with a college degree, and getting into Jill’s red Fiero that morning was the most radical act I’d committed in years.  My older son was three, the younger fourteen months, and I’d rarely been apart from them for more than a few hours. And yet when Jill backed down my driveway, that duffel bag and I were in her front seat.

Link portrays her friends’ escapades with honesty, profanity, humor, and compassion. Her exceptional writing skills deliver this tale beyond the simple recounting of adventures to “you are there” depictions of inebriated driving over two-track roads, late night talks, and ancient sites that strike them dumb with awe.

Before us was an ancient place, a flat circle of silver and gold a half mile across and surrounded by florescent evergreens. The silver came from the concave, unbroken expanse of flat rock under our feet and so damp with dew, fog, or mist that it gave off a metallic sheen.  The poplar leaves, the grass blades, the yellow of fall-blooming wildflowers, and even the wings of birds and insects merged together in the sun, creating an airy layer of gold.

For once the wind was nonexistent and none of us spoke; cicadas celebrating that they were simply alive was the only sound. Bev took a breath and marched off in hiker mode; Mary Lynn stayed right next to Linda’s car, but she was just as awestruck by the sight as the rest of us were. If silver could be spun from rock and gold from grass, what else was possible on this enchanted island?
What else was possible was their evolving story that included divorce, death, happily ever after moments, worries about memory loss, and years of building a friendship by returning every year unless “pregnant or dead” that allowed them to survive it all. The possibilities of this enchanted island began as soon the eight women crossed the mighty Mackinac Bridge each year and became The Drummond Girls. Thankfully Mardi Jo Link invites her readers along on their ride across the bridge and onto their enchanted island.

Summing it Up: Buy this book to enter into a sacred, yet sometimes wild and crazy friendship with a group of real women who aren’t perfect. Read it to think about your own friendships then put it down and call that friend you haven’t seen in a while and make plans for your own trip as this book will make you yearn to rekindle relationships. If you haven’t read Link’s memoir Bootstrapper, read it too as you’ll want to learn more of her story. If you’re thinking of taking your own road trip, Link narrates the audio version so download it and head to your own enchanted place with your best girlfriends.

Note: Link will be speaking and signing throughout the Midwest and you might just be able to catch her and her dry humor.  Tomorrow she's speaking at "Booked for Lunch" at the Perry Hotel in Petoskey, MI and I hear there may be one or two tickets left.  

Caveat: Mardi Jo Link is my friend. I’ve never been to Drummond Island with her and the “girls,” but I have enjoyed meals, wine, and conversation with her. I believe that every reviewer needs to tell readers if he or she knows an author. That said, I also believe that reading Mardi Jo Link’s The Drummond Girls will give readers a glimpse of what it’s like to be her friend and that’s a gift no one should turn down.

Rating: 5 stars (Seriously, who could rate this kind of friendship any less than five stars?)

Category: Five Starts, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Nonfiction, Road Food, Soul Food, Book Club

Publication date: July 14, 2015

Author Website:

Take the quiz - Which Drummond Girl are you?:

What Others are Saying:

Library Journal: "Captures the lives of blue-collar boomers, this book is great for book clubs, and Link knows the territory."

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