Book Review|The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan










The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less

by Terry Ryan

The memoir The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan is entertaining and inspirational. Terry’s mother, Evelyn Ryan, used ingenuity and wit to battle poverty and raise her ten children despite a difficult home situation. Gifted with a writing ability, she kept the family afloat financially by making a career of entering product contests popular at the time.

Often, I was moved as I listened to the story of this family and the struggles they experienced growing up in the 1950s and 60s with an alcoholic father and constant financial uncertainty .

Although she was faced with trying circumstances, Evelyn handled them all with a no nonsense attitude colored with humor. Terry obviously has a great deal of love and respect for her mother. I think this book is a beautiful tribute.

This was a story that kept me engrossed. I listened to the audiobook and finished it in one sitting.


Issues of concern:

Father’s alcoholism, poverty, destruction of property, incident where father pushes mother and causes injury, lack of support

I listened to the audio version of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less read by Terry Ryan, the author. This is an abridged version. The recording and the reading were well done and easy to listen to.

Book Discussion Questions for The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio from Mount Prospect Public Library

This memoir has been made into a movie, which I have viewed. The movie stays true to the version of the book I listened to with minor changes and deletions. I believe the heart of the story is conveyed quite well on the screen.


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© 2015, Donna Stone. All rights reserved.


  1. I was excited to see this book pictured at Literacy Musing Mondays today. It is one of my favorite memoirs. I found Evelyn’s strength, intelligence and resilience very inspiring. (I liked the movie very much too.) I enjoyed this book enough to have it here in both Kindle and print edition, and have recommended it several times to friends. Enjoyed your review!

  2. Hello from LIterary Musing Mondays. I saw this movie and loved it. Come to think of it, I read this book, too. I found the mother to be incredibly clever and resourceful. She had an ability to enjoy life no matter what she was enduring in her life.

  3. Sounds like an interesting read. Raising 10 kinds with an alcoholic father might well have been even tougher in the 50’s and 60’s than it is today because I don’t think there were as many support systems in place for someone like Terry’s mother.

    1. Yes, that’s true. There wasn’t much help available to families dealing with these kinds of issues. She does show a bit of that in the story.

  4. it isn’t very often that movies stay true to the books, sounds like a book that lots of us should read, I think we rely on money far too much, more important things in life. thanks for sharing with #readwithme x

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