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Frozen Dinners: A Memoir of a Fractured Family

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With the advent of TV dinners in the 1950s, an intense and entrepreneurial father rises from poverty to build a multi-million-dollar trucking empire hauling frozen food throughout the Northwest. His determination, combined with generosity and strict punishment, leaves his family in a state of emotional paralysis. After his untimely death, his survivors implode in a maelstr With the advent of TV dinners in the 1950s, an intense and entrepreneurial father rises from poverty to build a multi-million-dollar trucking empire hauling frozen food throughout the Northwest. His determination, combined with generosity and strict punishment, leaves his family in a state of emotional paralysis. After his untimely death, his survivors implode in a maelstrom of brutal courtroom drama, illness, and dementia. The estate and family are destroyed. Frozen Dinners is the story of Elaine Ambrose, who spends half a century searching for love and warmth beyond the contaminated legacy of her fractured family.


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With the advent of TV dinners in the 1950s, an intense and entrepreneurial father rises from poverty to build a multi-million-dollar trucking empire hauling frozen food throughout the Northwest. His determination, combined with generosity and strict punishment, leaves his family in a state of emotional paralysis. After his untimely death, his survivors implode in a maelstr With the advent of TV dinners in the 1950s, an intense and entrepreneurial father rises from poverty to build a multi-million-dollar trucking empire hauling frozen food throughout the Northwest. His determination, combined with generosity and strict punishment, leaves his family in a state of emotional paralysis. After his untimely death, his survivors implode in a maelstrom of brutal courtroom drama, illness, and dementia. The estate and family are destroyed. Frozen Dinners is the story of Elaine Ambrose, who spends half a century searching for love and warmth beyond the contaminated legacy of her fractured family.

30 review for Frozen Dinners: A Memoir of a Fractured Family

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lynne Spreen

    Very Moving I think a good memoir is relatable, and this one made me think of the difficult times in my own childhood. It's both sad and uplifting. Nicely done. Very Moving I think a good memoir is relatable, and this one made me think of the difficult times in my own childhood. It's both sad and uplifting. Nicely done.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Melody Smith

    I was so disappointed in this book. Technically, it needed an editor. The writing was all over the place. Subject-wise it was basically a public shaming to her brother. She took this opportunity to out him for his behavior. It was not a memoir, nor a story.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Linda Hudak

    Not enough stars to say thank you for this memoir. This is a wonderful tribute to the Ambrose family dynasty. From the trauma of an early life of harsh treatment from a distant but determined father to the living a life she had dreamed for herself, it all rings true and impactful. So many of Elaine's memories were ones I shared myself. The savage destruction of the family fortunes, the break from brother Tom and his callous treatment of his own mother and sister is something I have seen and experi Not enough stars to say thank you for this memoir. This is a wonderful tribute to the Ambrose family dynasty. From the trauma of an early life of harsh treatment from a distant but determined father to the living a life she had dreamed for herself, it all rings true and impactful. So many of Elaine's memories were ones I shared myself. The savage destruction of the family fortunes, the break from brother Tom and his callous treatment of his own mother and sister is something I have seen and experienced. Elaine inherited the humor, compassion and love from her parents in a way only she could bring out. This was a pleasure to read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jill Crosby

    Ms Ambrose is a proud writer whose material is good enough for publication. But she breaks the biggest rule of ALL writers—beginners, advanceds, elites, professionals—in that she TELLS & DOESN’T SHOW!!!! I was interested about the whole connection between frozen dinners and how they came to symbolize a dysfunctional fractured family. The problem is—this doesn’t come across until 169 of a 170-page book. And it truly did not seem like her family was THAT dysfunctional. Her dad works his way up fro Ms Ambrose is a proud writer whose material is good enough for publication. But she breaks the biggest rule of ALL writers—beginners, advanceds, elites, professionals—in that she TELLS & DOESN’T SHOW!!!! I was interested about the whole connection between frozen dinners and how they came to symbolize a dysfunctional fractured family. The problem is—this doesn’t come across until 169 of a 170-page book. And it truly did not seem like her family was THAT dysfunctional. Her dad works his way up from grease monkey to trucking empire owner and multi-millionaire in the potato industry. He insists that his children work in the family business, they respect their parents, that they do well in school. If they don’t do these things, they receive corporal punishment. (This story takes place in the early ‘60’s. EVERYONE received corporal punishment). She talks about yearning for a closer relationship with her father, but doesn’t flesh it out. There’s no showing her love for her father mentioned. She just says she wished to be closer to him. And the fractures family doesn’t appear until the end of the book after the father dies, and the oldest son swindles and cheats the rest of his family out of their inheritances, while running the company into the ground. The author and her mother take this gem to court and win back a small-ish settlement than what they’re really owed, and then there’s great lamentation about “never hearing from that brother again.” Wonder why. Though Ambrose is a poet, her prose is stale and prim, a recitation of events and tired phrases of awe over the beauty of the land around her. I bought this book new, and it’s already on the “Donate” pile. The “ poor little rich girl” trope can be done successfully in the hands of a skilled author. Ambrose just isn’t one to pull it off. On the plus side (earning the one star rating), I DID learn a lot about the potato industry.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Beth Jerkins

    Surface So much was left unsaid. I was surprised she cared for her mother because I had not thought there was a relationship between them. Bragged a lot, but her story jumped about with no depth. Grew up in a family that worked hard. What was so bad about that? Discipline made her someone who contributed to society.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    BLAH

  7. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Turner

    By the title, I was expecting some light-hearted humor to accompany the "fractured family." It is truly about the fractured family. Well-written but a little heavy for me. A lot of the technical stuff, I didn't try to understand. Too much for me. By the title, I was expecting some light-hearted humor to accompany the "fractured family." It is truly about the fractured family. Well-written but a little heavy for me. A lot of the technical stuff, I didn't try to understand. Too much for me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    colleen

    Great book! The story was very interesting! I love memoirs, this one is written well. I felt the authors pain when she wrote about the family dynamics after her father died. I cried for her sweet mother. The author did a very nice job opening up to her readers and sharing some interesting stories about the farming industry, the trucking industry, innovation, and family dynamic. It also helps me to understand how people were during those times. My mother is the age of the author and she has share Great book! The story was very interesting! I love memoirs, this one is written well. I felt the authors pain when she wrote about the family dynamics after her father died. I cried for her sweet mother. The author did a very nice job opening up to her readers and sharing some interesting stories about the farming industry, the trucking industry, innovation, and family dynamic. It also helps me to understand how people were during those times. My mother is the age of the author and she has shared some similar experiences with how women were treated during those times!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Joni Simon

    When it happens to you it's a book. Her upbringing seemed harsh, but that's the way it was for most kids growing up in that era. Parents then thought spankings were good for you like red meat and vitamins. Most of her life was pretty typical. She was just richer than everybody else. I do appreciate her standing up for feminism and the fact that she kept her name. First person memoirs are my favorite genre. This just wasn't one that I liked the best. When it happens to you it's a book. Her upbringing seemed harsh, but that's the way it was for most kids growing up in that era. Parents then thought spankings were good for you like red meat and vitamins. Most of her life was pretty typical. She was just richer than everybody else. I do appreciate her standing up for feminism and the fact that she kept her name. First person memoirs are my favorite genre. This just wasn't one that I liked the best.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Mohlsick

    Very basic Very well written. Not very adventurous or interesting. Kind of a salt and pepper flavored book. It's good to hear others life stories but it wasn't that dysfunctional as far as I'm concerned Very basic Very well written. Not very adventurous or interesting. Kind of a salt and pepper flavored book. It's good to hear others life stories but it wasn't that dysfunctional as far as I'm concerned

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sherry Lynn Wood

    Frozen family Another memoir about another fractured family and money, power and greed are the center of it. I truly believe people who behave like Tom did has the devil in them. I cant imagine treating my loved ones that way.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Debra Ballard

    What an amazing family So glad that she wrote her family memoir. Very strong personalities. I hope her brother Tom finally understands the damage he caused.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Frances Houseman

    The writer has an interesting story but the book read more like a chronology of things that happened to her family, rather than true story-telling.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    Fast read about Elaines life. As a classmate I found details most interesting.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pamela J

    Boring. Nothing noteworthy or new here.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Diane

  17. 5 out of 5

    cHRISTINE MANIACI

  18. 4 out of 5

    karen burton

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Nolan-bowers

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Smythe

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michele Neighbors

  22. 5 out of 5

    Betty Deblois

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Hancock

  24. 4 out of 5

    Carol Nelson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Terry NeSmith

  26. 4 out of 5

    memoirs

  27. 5 out of 5

    Angela Sullivan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Denise Dickover

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alexa Hemmann

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