Book Review: ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman’
Reviewed by Melissa Arnold
Molly England of Huntington knows that it takes strength, self-confidence and a lot of support to raise a family. A wife and mother to three young children, 35-year-old England has shared the ups and downs of life with other moms through writing articles online. Now, she’s celebrating the release of her first print story, “Welcome to New York,” one of 101 stories featured in the new anthology, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman,” edited by Amy Newmark.
In the book, England tells the story of her family’s turbulent move from Texas to Long Island last summer. As Hurricane Harvey rattled the South, England took matters into her own hands, choosing to drive to New York with her children. That solo road trip ended up being a journey of self-discovery that she’ll never forget. I recently had the opportunity to interview England as she prepares for a book signing at the Book Revue in Huntington.
Tell me a bit about your background. Were you raised in Texas?
I actually grew up in Santa Monica, California — my whole family is over there. My husband is from London, and we met while I was visiting Scotland with friends. I ended up going to graduate school for social work at the University of Edinburgh so we could be together.
Is this your first published story?
No. I’ve also written articles for The Washington Post, Scary Mommy, The Huffington Post, Babble and several other outlets. But this is my first print story!
Did you always want to be a writer? Did you study writing in school?
I never realized when I was a kid that I was a good writer, but I was always journaling. I ended up getting my bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California in Santa Barbara.
My biological father is Dutch and lives in the Netherlands, so while I was living in Scotland I started blogging about my attempt to find him as a way of processing my feelings. It was very compelling to people and there was a lot of support. I loved sharing the ups and downs of that experience through writing in a way that connects me to others. At the same time, I started writing about natural childbirth and parenting as a childbirth educator. That blossomed into freelancing for different publications.
How did you hear about ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman?’
I remember reading the college edition of “Chicken Soup,” and I loved the stories. I identified a lot with the “Chicken Soup” brand. One day, I got an email advertising that they were doing an edition focused on empowered women, and I was so excited. I thought, “This is for me.” I felt so honored when they accepted the piece.
Were you nervous about moving to New York?
We had already moved from California to Texas for my husband’s job, so we were excited and it was a great move for our family. We were looking forward to it. Plus, my family is in LA, and my husband’s family is from London, so we’re halfway between them now.
What was it like going through Hurricane Harvey in Texas when your husband was already in New York?
It was horrible! Luckily, we were safe. I’m a California earthquake girl, but this was my first hurricane. All of the anticipation and warnings made me very anxious, but we were surrounded by a wonderful group of friends and they helped us get through it.
What made you decide to drive from Texas to New York with your kids?
We were working with a relocation company, so the timing wasn’t fully in our control. We were doing a lot of waiting, but I wanted my kids to be able to start the new school year in New York. I decided that I didn’t want to wait anymore, and that we needed to do it on our own.
How did you feel on the trip?
It was a roller coaster of emotions, but we really enjoyed getting to see places we never would have seen and staying in a new hotel every night. The kids were having fun and it was a really positive experience. They were really great.
What did it feel like for you when you arrived on Long Island?
It was the greatest sense of achievement and relief that I was able to deliver our three kids and dog safely to our new home, and to reunite with my husband. It really brought us closer together as a family.
What did that experience teach you about yourself?
Honestly, I underestimated myself. I thought that birthing my children was my biggest achievement. But realizing that in this trip I made the right choices, I could rise to the occasion when things got tough. I learned to trust my choices and have confidence in my abilities.
Why did you choose to tell this particular story for the book?
I write from my heart, and this story had been published elsewhere before with a lot of positive responses. I wanted to share whatever I could with other women about being strong and independent.
Do you feel that there’s a need for more initiatives that empower women?
Absolutely. I think it’s very hard right now for women because we’re trying to do it all and make it look effortless. There’s a saturated market of perfection — we don’t need more of that! We need to be able to share our vulnerability and our struggles, and see that even in difficulty we can manage to find our feet. I love this project because it shows women in real and relatable situations. Women have to be there for each other.
Where can we follow your life and future work?
I love Instagram! You can follow me at @bluebonnetbabies, and at my Facebook page, Bluebonnet Babies by Molly England. My website is www.mollyengland.com.
Join Molly England for a meet-and-greet and book signing at Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington on Tuesday, June 12 at 7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman” is available in stores and online wherever books are sold.