Pigs Can't Swim: A Memoir (A Merloyd Lawrence Book) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Now out in paperback:

"Pigs Can’t Swim is a touching and heartfelt memoir. Helen Peppe looks back at at her life growing up on a small farm in rural Maine. The youngest of nine, Peppe had to contend with poverty, sibling rivalry and the troubling realization that the farm animals that she so loved, would eventually be served as dinner. From an early age she found solace and escape through her love of reading. This is a moving memoir told with great humor and great sadness."

More recommendations from Susan

— Susan

February 2014 Indie Next List

“For Helen, born into a Maine farm family featuring eight children, parents with good intentions but far too much to do, assorted animals raised to be eaten, and gardens to weed and hoe, two things soon become clear: books provide a necessary escape from the rampant chaos, and vegetarianism is a must if one is to avoid eating one's friends. Helen, the youngest, is an animal lover among carnivores, a rule follower who stands guard over her rebellious siblings, and the only reader in the house. Peppe's mordant humor, her irreverence, and her astonishing ear for dialogue make this memoir a joy to read, at once hilarious and wise, cynical and touching, realistic and hope filled.”
— Betsy Burton, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT


An outrageous, hilarious, and touching memoir by the youngest of nine children in a hardscrabble, beyond-eccentric Maine family.

With everything happening on Helen Peppe's backwoods Maine farm, life was wild -- and not just for the animals. Sibling rivalry, rock-bottom poverty, feral male chauvinism, sex in the hayloft: everything seemed--and was -- out of control. In telling her wayward family tale, Peppe manages deadpan humor, an unerring eye for the absurd, and poignant compassion for her utterly overwhelmed parents. While her feisty resilience and candor will inevitably remind readers of Jeannette Walls or Mary Karr, Peppe's wry insight and moments of tenderness with family and animals are entirely her own. As Richard Hoffman, the author of Half the House: A Memoir puts it: "Pigs Can't Swim -- is an unruly, joyous troublemaker of a book."

About the Author

Helen Peppe, a professional photographer specializing in horses and dogs, lives near Portland, Maine, with her husband, Eric, her children, four dogs, four rescued rabbits, four guinea pigs, and two destructive kittens.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780306824234
ISBN-10: 030682423X
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication Date: January 26th, 2016
Pages: 272
Language: English
Series: A Merloyd Lawrence Book

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