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The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life

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With stories mov[ing] from country-hick hilarious to poignant and touching (Savannah Morning News), The Cracker Queen is a celebration of living out loud, finding humor in desperate situations, and loving life in spite of hardships.


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With stories mov[ing] from country-hick hilarious to poignant and touching (Savannah Morning News), The Cracker Queen is a celebration of living out loud, finding humor in desperate situations, and loving life in spite of hardships.

30 review for The Cracker Queen: A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Koren

    This book reminds me of David Sedaris or Jeannette Walls. It is a humorous memoir about growing up poor in the south with a crazy family. So many times when I read a book like this I think the humor sounds forced, but not in this book. I liked her childhood years better than her adult years and I really could have done without the uplifting messages at the end, but I did enjoy this book and it was a quick read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    L

    This author is what is wrong with The Contemporary American South. I was disgusted with nearly everything in her story. Hannon, like most contemporary Southern writers, romanticizes this largely ignorant area of the country and embraces some of the worst trash out there. Why? 'Cause they're kinfolk, that's why. First, let's clear the air about the South: this is an historically rich and beautiful area, full of deep roots, mouthwatering cuisine, and long-standing family traditions. This is the bir This author is what is wrong with The Contemporary American South. I was disgusted with nearly everything in her story. Hannon, like most contemporary Southern writers, romanticizes this largely ignorant area of the country and embraces some of the worst trash out there. Why? 'Cause they're kinfolk, that's why. First, let's clear the air about the South: this is an historically rich and beautiful area, full of deep roots, mouthwatering cuisine, and long-standing family traditions. This is the birthplace of our founding fathers, myriad literary giants, and countless talented musicians in several genres. This is also the place where - right or wrong, I'm not arguing one way or the other - residents felt so strongly about preserving their way of life and upholding their beliefs that they spent four, long years fighting a battle they knew they'd lose. They were outmanned and outgunned; they wore their uniforms to shreds and went shoeless in the winter; they didn't have enough food to eat and were separated from their family and their homes. Southerners continued fighting long after others would have given up. There should be no question in anyone's mind that Southerners come from a brave, proud, and determined stock - one that will find a way to get things done, themselves, thank-you-very-much. So what happened? The NeoSoutherner Hannon describes as an exalted 'Cracker Queen' is a shameful substitution. She brags of her "Me-Maw" screwing the government over by misrepresenting herself and using her undeserved welfare money to seed her loan shark business. A few pages earlier she proudly touted the virtues of Cracker Queens being entirely self-sufficient. She encourages readers to break the law in thinly-veiled self-righteousness, believing that the only way to true independent thinking is to buck the system. Does she not realize that a large group of people believes that, anyway? I'd likely call that a herd mentality and not independence. Yet she rails on suburbanites, thumbing a juvenile finger at them for being afraid of everything. And Bubba and Paw-Paw are chuckling up a storm because *they* know that safety is really code word for fear. Well then, let's not mention Hannon's copious use of the word "thug," when referring to certain, dog-fighting urbanites who drive Caprice Classics. The rest of the world knows code language, too. Among other atrocities, she dismisses serious spousal abuse and alcoholism as just normal ways of life and badges of honor. Why? Because when these folks are sober, their generosity knows no bounds. I don't even know what to say about that stupidity. Hannon portrays herself and all of her family to be dirty rednecks, never giving a second thought to putting thair hard-earned trust in thair kinfolk, even though thair kinfolk are all crookeder than a dog's hind leg. Which reminds me: the platitudes are fast furious here, as if every word spewing from a Southerner's mouth is a quotable quote. Oh, the stereotypes. I simply cannot believe she didn't include the old Southerner wedding bromide: "The secret to a happy marriage is to keep his belly full and his balls empty." For real, someone wrote that in my wedding book. Also of note is the asinine notion that Southern women have a sixth sense of sorts about danger and have a second sight for "haints." This, apparently, is a gift that keeps them alive and prophesying till old age. Special for all those talk-back women who have their priorities straight! I live in the South, I was born in the South, I was raised in the South, and I am *done* with the South. This book does more to perpetuate 'poor white trash' stereotypes than, well…thugs stuffing fighting dogs in Caprice Classics. Hannon's story is a dime a dozen, as they say. The only remarkable thing about this book is her complete lack of self-examination. I'm reminded of a dog I once had that rolled in horse manure and then looked at me proudly, wagging her tail and letting her tongue hang out. No, I'm not claiming you. You done bad. Git in your basket and don't come out for a month of Sundays.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dwight

    All I can say about this book is that I had a lot of fun reading it. Hannon gives her account of growing up poor, southern, white, and clever. Unlike the redneck portrait that is often painted of poor southern whites she is what I would call a pragmatic progressive. The book is full of humor, tragedy, and down right good common sense.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alan Wells

    A down-home testimonial to endurance and resiliency, Ms. Hannon has served up a narrative dinner beginning with a young life fraught with harrowing, painful circumstances and experiences; along with side dishes of poverty, instability, and fear. All washed down though, with all-you-can-drink humorous perspectives and a dessert of personal triumph and celebration. Going back for "seconds" takes you through her launch to independence and self-reliance. It's a five-star meal; no question. The Cracke A down-home testimonial to endurance and resiliency, Ms. Hannon has served up a narrative dinner beginning with a young life fraught with harrowing, painful circumstances and experiences; along with side dishes of poverty, instability, and fear. All washed down though, with all-you-can-drink humorous perspectives and a dessert of personal triumph and celebration. Going back for "seconds" takes you through her launch to independence and self-reliance. It's a five-star meal; no question. The Cracker Queen is a deeply personal story, and it made me feel like I was on the "listening end" of a casual conversation with the author. I admire her honesty as well as her rural- southern-to-the-core centering and values - an oft overlooked strength in those who have slipped the chains of non-education and risen from their own circumstances despite the overwhelming odds. I feel like I've spent some time with a comrade who can keep me laughing and keeping on.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    I read this book because I enjoy Southern writers and their descriptions of life growing up in the South. These writers interest me because I grew up in the North and the contrasts are so great, and I am now a transplanted "southerner". I have read some wonderful books about life in the south, Rick Bragg's being my favorites, but this book just didn't hold the same appeal. There was something that came off as, almost, bragging, about the lifestyle that Hannon endured. The stories were very one d I read this book because I enjoy Southern writers and their descriptions of life growing up in the South. These writers interest me because I grew up in the North and the contrasts are so great, and I am now a transplanted "southerner". I have read some wonderful books about life in the south, Rick Bragg's being my favorites, but this book just didn't hold the same appeal. There was something that came off as, almost, bragging, about the lifestyle that Hannon endured. The stories were very one dimensional and her definition of a cracker queen just didn't seem to hit the mark. The book was a quick read, but I didn't come away with any lasting impression. Not sure I would recommend this one, there are some wonderful authors out there who tell the story of growing up in the south in a much more thoughtful way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I couldn't finish this one. I couldn't relate to the author enough to get into it and enjoy the journey. The author relates stories from her childhood, most of which are outrageous along the lines of Jeannette Wall's The Glass Castle, but they don't feel real. Many times I wondered if the author hadn't exaggerated or even created the incidents just to make a more interesting book. The stories are told at surface level with no reflection on the thoughts or motives of the people involved. I was an I couldn't finish this one. I couldn't relate to the author enough to get into it and enjoy the journey. The author relates stories from her childhood, most of which are outrageous along the lines of Jeannette Wall's The Glass Castle, but they don't feel real. Many times I wondered if the author hadn't exaggerated or even created the incidents just to make a more interesting book. The stories are told at surface level with no reflection on the thoughts or motives of the people involved. I was annoyed with the author's obvious class envy as well. I found myself questioning whether or not the author had simply misread situations or people. I tried repeatedly to finish the book but kept finding myself doing sudoku instead so I eventually gave up.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    When I saw a small UNC-TV public television piece on her story-turned-movie set in Warner Robins, GA, it was as if a small jolt of electricity coursed through my body. There is a nonfiction book set in my childhood "backwater" (Hannon's description) hometown?! Sadly, there was very little of my childhood to recognize. Place names were changed, or simply unnamed, and she doesn't mention which schools she attended. We are separated by just a couple of years but her childhood world is 100% differen When I saw a small UNC-TV public television piece on her story-turned-movie set in Warner Robins, GA, it was as if a small jolt of electricity coursed through my body. There is a nonfiction book set in my childhood "backwater" (Hannon's description) hometown?! Sadly, there was very little of my childhood to recognize. Place names were changed, or simply unnamed, and she doesn't mention which schools she attended. We are separated by just a couple of years but her childhood world is 100% different from mine. I suppose the obvious conclusion is that because Hannon grew up on the wrong side of town our lives did not intersect. There is plenty of poverty tourism available through books, but this is my first to be set in my small world.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ragan

    I started listening to this book on audio since now that I live in the south I like to read books about southern life. It seemed like it was suppose to be a book about the strength of character of the southern poor. So far all it is about is drinking, spousal abuse, drugs, and neglected children. Why on earth would I want to read about someone glorifying all that as if it were something beautiful? Maybe it all turns out better in the end and there is some sort of moral to the story, but I am not I started listening to this book on audio since now that I live in the south I like to read books about southern life. It seemed like it was suppose to be a book about the strength of character of the southern poor. So far all it is about is drinking, spousal abuse, drugs, and neglected children. Why on earth would I want to read about someone glorifying all that as if it were something beautiful? Maybe it all turns out better in the end and there is some sort of moral to the story, but I am not got to waste my time finishing the book so that I can find out.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this memoir, although early on I wondered how this woman could have possibly made it out of childhood alive. Ms Hannon tells her story with a great deal of humor, but without glossing over the more sordid details of life with an alcoholic mother who liked the fellows after the early death of her father. But survive she did and in the process saw her mother get clean and sober. A testament to the grit of the southern woman born without a spoon, let alone a silver one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Ended this fiasco on page 136. I like southern stories, real or fiction, and was intrigued by the title but this so called Cracker Queen was down right dull. It was like listening to a drunk friend try to tell you some irrelevant story who just kept getting sidetracked into some other crappy story.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    OMG!!!! I saw my Southern self in this book...very entertaining..shows the absolute resilence of southern women...rock on, Loretta...you touched this girl's heart and soul!! Thank you!! OMG!!!! I saw my Southern self in this book...very entertaining..shows the absolute resilence of southern women...rock on, Loretta...you touched this girl's heart and soul!! Thank you!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Myra

    One of the best books ever. A whole lotta life lessons, with lots of sparkle and laughter mixed in, in one book. Makes all us Southern Cracker Queens want to don our tiaras and kick up our heels.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mary K

    This book just reeked of inauthenticity. Each chapter was a trite essay - part one was bits and pieces of an often horrific childhood with a chipper exclamation of how wonderful everyone was, really, if you just looked deeply enough and had the right attitude. Hannon had a mountain of material here - she just didn’t use it well. She could have - should have! - delved more deeply into her pain, showing us her life rather than telling us about it, and showing us the good in her parents rather than This book just reeked of inauthenticity. Each chapter was a trite essay - part one was bits and pieces of an often horrific childhood with a chipper exclamation of how wonderful everyone was, really, if you just looked deeply enough and had the right attitude. Hannon had a mountain of material here - she just didn’t use it well. She could have - should have! - delved more deeply into her pain, showing us her life rather than telling us about it, and showing us the good in her parents rather than making statements like these: “Mama could have been CEO of something big... her intelligence, charisma, and resourcefulness were a sight to behold”. Or “drink made her mean, such a contrast to the lovely spirit inside”. Gack!!!! Any writer, even a new writer, should know better than this. That kind of writing is just AWFUL! Hannon really went crazy with metaphors, also, but only a few were good. Otherwise we have to endure “colder than Lenin’s cadaver” and “spring arrived like a ravishingly prostitute” (huh?). Every page rang false and grated on my nerves. Parts 2 Hannon seems to have found a more appropriate voice for these stories. I liked them. It would have made a good second book. It didn’t work as another section of this one. Part 3 changes the whole theme and even genre of the book. Suddenly we’re in a self-help book, a preachy little section that continues on its simplistic path. “Gratitude is the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae”. She “leaps and cavorts happily” in the cemetery. And her rules for being a “cracker queen” are simply appalling. You have to admit, she says, that her mom’s mom, who abandoned her and apparently never offered an explanation or apology, received every aspect of government assistance possible and “cracker queens” are just darn proud of it! That is just truly appalling. How can anyone defend this, much less feel proud of it? Or: Twenty years after a woman she knew took road kill home to feed her family, the author remains in awe of her (her words). Fine. The deer had just been killed. But she’s in awe of her??? Wow. This book was atrocious on every level imaginable.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    Yet another memoir of a Southerner which is highly appraised by the powers that be, but is just, in my opinion an excuse to make fun of the South. It was NOT funny. I actually felt sorry for the author, I know she wrote this memoir thinking she would show all her 'friends' how clever she was, how absolutely hilariously tragic southern 'white trash' families are (of course with hearts of gold), But the stories were not well developed. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. Don't waste your time re Yet another memoir of a Southerner which is highly appraised by the powers that be, but is just, in my opinion an excuse to make fun of the South. It was NOT funny. I actually felt sorry for the author, I know she wrote this memoir thinking she would show all her 'friends' how clever she was, how absolutely hilariously tragic southern 'white trash' families are (of course with hearts of gold), But the stories were not well developed. It just left a bad taste in my mouth. Don't waste your time reading this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cory

    There are a lot of tragic-yet-funny, rollicking Southern reads out there, but this is not one of them. First off, I listened to the audiobook and I cannot comprehend how a book can come from a "voices of the South" imprint and then be read by someone with no trace of a Southern accent. What?!? And this book just seemed sort of pointless. The author's life didn't seem exciting or tragic or funny or "large" enough to warrant a memoir, and her philosophies didn't grab me either. There are a lot of tragic-yet-funny, rollicking Southern reads out there, but this is not one of them. First off, I listened to the audiobook and I cannot comprehend how a book can come from a "voices of the South" imprint and then be read by someone with no trace of a Southern accent. What?!? And this book just seemed sort of pointless. The author's life didn't seem exciting or tragic or funny or "large" enough to warrant a memoir, and her philosophies didn't grab me either.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    well started out funny/appalling/amusing. then started feeling a bit well-if-Rebecca-Wells=can-do-it-so-can-I, then finally it is just way to self-actualization 101 for my blood. and does she get more mileage labeling herself a "cracker queen"? imho, just the white equivalent of the "N" word, not attractive, not all that funny. and the last part, down right preachy well started out funny/appalling/amusing. then started feeling a bit well-if-Rebecca-Wells=can-do-it-so-can-I, then finally it is just way to self-actualization 101 for my blood. and does she get more mileage labeling herself a "cracker queen"? imho, just the white equivalent of the "N" word, not attractive, not all that funny. and the last part, down right preachy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The strongest parts of this book are the author's vivid descriptions of growing up in south Georgia with her eccentric, troubled parents. The weakest parts are the somewhat annoying definitions of what the author calls "a cracker queen." Sorta like a self-help empowerment book in a way, but worth it for the story. (Also, I really wanna go to Pinky's bar in Savannah now.) The strongest parts of this book are the author's vivid descriptions of growing up in south Georgia with her eccentric, troubled parents. The weakest parts are the somewhat annoying definitions of what the author calls "a cracker queen." Sorta like a self-help empowerment book in a way, but worth it for the story. (Also, I really wanna go to Pinky's bar in Savannah now.)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Huether

    A southern girl, but not the Belle of the Ball. Her family lived on the fringes of the community. Both parents abused the bottle. Rette, finished college and was on her way to be what she wanted to do. Rette lived in Savannah Georgia. She expanded on all it's imperfections. Some very funny. There were humorous saying through out the book. A southern girl, but not the Belle of the Ball. Her family lived on the fringes of the community. Both parents abused the bottle. Rette, finished college and was on her way to be what she wanted to do. Rette lived in Savannah Georgia. She expanded on all it's imperfections. Some very funny. There were humorous saying through out the book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    Playing catch up today - you know all th0se books that you didn't quite finish but are worth going back and finishing? That happens to me on Kindle. This little book was sad, ridiculous and funny. You can skim your way right through this, enjoying every minute. Playing catch up today - you know all th0se books that you didn't quite finish but are worth going back and finishing? That happens to me on Kindle. This little book was sad, ridiculous and funny. You can skim your way right through this, enjoying every minute.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Bowman

    It is well written and funny in areas but the writer does romanticized the southern stereotypes like rebelling against the government or any authority figure (the police), duping the welfare system and love of guns. She also contradicts herself a few times.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Phillip

    I listened to the 5 cd audiobook. Out of the 5 cds, the book had 3 cds worth of good material filled with interesting life stories, childhood experiences, and anecdotes. She grew up relatively poor and had a mother who was a drug addict... Unfortunately, there seemed to be 2 cds full of filler. There was a whole cd dedicated to a very long list of how to be a cracker queen and unusual expressions that Southerners use. The last 20% of the book was excruciating. It felt like the whole cd should ha I listened to the 5 cd audiobook. Out of the 5 cds, the book had 3 cds worth of good material filled with interesting life stories, childhood experiences, and anecdotes. She grew up relatively poor and had a mother who was a drug addict... Unfortunately, there seemed to be 2 cds full of filler. There was a whole cd dedicated to a very long list of how to be a cracker queen and unusual expressions that Southerners use. The last 20% of the book was excruciating. It felt like the whole cd should have been condensed into a clickbait internet list "10 expressions that Southerners use." ________________________________ Minor details I enjoyed reading about the legendary "Goat man" who would travel from Alabama to Georgia on a sled pulled by goats preaching the word of God. As an engineer, I was annoyed when she said she wrote in a 14 square foot shed. I am pretty sure she meant 140 square feet (10 feet by 14 feet).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Even though her childhood was harrowing at times, the author was able to find joy in living. This was probably her inherent personality being fed by two parents who loved her, but were flawed. It’s hard to overcome a difficult childhood if love isn’t a part of it. The vignettes from her childhood are told with a lot of humor. The latter part of the book contains solid insight on rules for happiness. We can all learn from these reminders. I enjoyed it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    The autobiographical portions are easily a 4-star approaching 5-star affair. The philosophical 3rd part is maybe only 2-star. She has a very unique story to tell and a great way of telling it but I’m less certain of the belief system she ultimately espouses since some of it seems at odds with her story. Still admirable for its honest look at the messiness and contradictions of a particular kind of Southern life. Recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bookmark Hoarder

    "Perhaps I'm proof that regardless of the hand you're dealt, great love can trump just about anything- even bad blood." -pg. 19, The Cracker Queen Very entertaining. I don't agree with everything she says (such as intentionally breaking the law because you can), but it has a good message overall. I enjoyed the format: each chapter focuses on one story in the author's life or on a particular "cracker queen" she knew. "Perhaps I'm proof that regardless of the hand you're dealt, great love can trump just about anything- even bad blood." -pg. 19, The Cracker Queen Very entertaining. I don't agree with everything she says (such as intentionally breaking the law because you can), but it has a good message overall. I enjoyed the format: each chapter focuses on one story in the author's life or on a particular "cracker queen" she knew.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Would like a deeper dive into self awareness. I really appreciated how down to earth the author is about her life, her mom, and her grandmother. I would have liked to hear more about her relationships as a teenager, what she needed while her parents were selfishly taking what they needed. Not that are not your heros.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ranette

    The first part of this novel was crammed with interesting anecdotes about her family, their crazy lives and fights. The next part tells of her successes and the last is rather preachy. So if your like multiple personalities, you might like this book

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    This was a quick read following Lauretta Hannon's adventures through life as a self-proclaimed "Cracker Queen". It's a mix of family stories and Hannon's take on the poorer classes she comes into contact with through her work and living circumstances. This was a quick read following Lauretta Hannon's adventures through life as a self-proclaimed "Cracker Queen". It's a mix of family stories and Hannon's take on the poorer classes she comes into contact with through her work and living circumstances.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    "Beauty lies in the broken and imperfect." Y'all, I've never felt more comfortable than I was while listening to The Cracker Queen. It felt like home. The narration fit pretty will and she is definitely someone I'd enjoy to listen to again. "Beauty lies in the broken and imperfect." Y'all, I've never felt more comfortable than I was while listening to The Cracker Queen. It felt like home. The narration fit pretty will and she is definitely someone I'd enjoy to listen to again.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Aunttammie Pogue

    Cute book--has references to Macon, Dublin, and the Silver Skillet!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    This caught my attention only because she's from Georgia. It had a few amusing moments but they were very few and very far between. It felt like it would never end. Not worth it, IMO. This caught my attention only because she's from Georgia. It had a few amusing moments but they were very few and very far between. It felt like it would never end. Not worth it, IMO.

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