Read The Exact Place: a memoir by Margie L. Haack Online


A three-room house in northern Minnesota with no running water can seem crowded with a mother, stepfather, five siblings, and a dog. It was swampland barely claimed from wilderness, where temperatures of 40 below could freeze a chicken house full of hens. It was the place Margie accidentally killed her favorite dog, was chased by a timber wolf, learned to love work and humA three-room house in northern Minnesota with no running water can seem crowded with a mother, stepfather, five siblings, and a dog. It was swampland barely claimed from wilderness, where temperatures of 40 below could freeze a chicken house full of hens. It was the place Margie accidentally killed her favorite dog, was chased by a timber wolf, learned to love work and humor and hate sheep. Her roots were tangled with the death of a father who was killed before her birth, leaving her mother a widow at seventeen. This was also where her spiritual awakening began. She yearned for home, for a father who loved her. Margie determined to win her step-father's love and approval, but failed. Her stories of her childhood show how suffering ripened the landscape of her life. From her earliest memories at the age of four through dark nightmares, she became aware that God received her as a beloved daughter. She had been, all along, in The Exact Place she needed to be....

Title : The Exact Place: a memoir
Author :
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ISBN : 9781937063986
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 254 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Exact Place: a memoir Reviews

  • Jessica Snell
    2019-03-10 08:40

    If you've ever heard the late Rich Mullins' excellent song "First Family", you'll have an idea of the tone of Margie' Haack's memoir, "The Exact Place". Her clear-eyed prose is kin to Mullins' simple and profound lyricism. Haack grew up on the swampy, lakeside land just on the American side of Minnesota's northern border, oldest in a large farming family.To be honest, I usually avoid books about country life, because I find they tend to be either much too depressing or, the exact opposite, much too sickly-sweet. But to my delight, Haack's book falls into neither trap. Walking with a firm step that tilts neither towards despair nor nostalgia, Haack's book tells the story of her childhood in one of the most fully-realized settings I've ever read. I loved the descriptive botanical details of the unique environment around her home, and the funny stories about her escapades with her siblings, and the touching stories of her summers on the lake with her grandfather. All of these fascinating components buoyed me effortlessly along in my reading. But the theme that Haack circles around to again and again is the feeling that dogged her throughout her childhood: the feeling that she had to work to earn both God's love, and the love of her stepfather. She circles around to it over and over - she never stays on it very long, but every time she touches on the theme, she goes a bit deeper. It's like hearing a musical phrase repeated and elaborated on here and there in a fugue, until you realize that every single note - no matter how seemingly unrelated - is there to support this one statement. And then, in the penultimate chapter, the phrase is answered and resolved. I've rarely read anything more satisfying, or anything that rang truer. You know how we Christians love to tell stories about answered prayers and the extraordinary moments when we're absolutely sure God acted or spoke? And the stories are wonderful, but out of context they seem odd or unlikely or just . . . just like something other than the wonders that they are? I think what I loved best about this book is that Haack gave the context to God's answer of her one, most personal, most compelling question. If she'd told less of her story, I wouldn't have fully understood the wonder of the moment when God finally met her. But by the end of the book, I was so immersed in the world of her childhood, that when God finally met her and assured her of his love, I understood why what he said to her meant so much.(Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book for free from the publisher, Kalos Press, which is an imprint of Doulos Resources, to whom I am under contract. I was not paid for my review, and all opinions expressed here are my own.)

  • Kristen
    2019-02-23 07:34

    A good memoir allows readers a glimpse into another person’s experience and leaves them better for it. The Exact Place recalls Margie Haack’s childhood in the harsh and wild landscape of rural Northern Minnesota. Margie and her husband Denis have a fantastic ministry called Ransom Fellowship. I have enjoyed their writing on faith and culture for many years, so I had no doubt that I’d enjoy this book, just as I’ve enjoyed Margie’s writing over the years on her blog and in Notes from Toad Hall.Oftentimes, books set it rural places are idyllically pastoral, a glorification of country life. Though Haack’s childhood had some rural pleasures anyone can admire, she did not shy away from recalling the difficulties of rural poverty. These details made it feel honest and real, but so did the recipes and the happy memories as well.One of the recurring themes of the book is Margie’s relationship with her stepfather, and her longing to know her biological father, who died before she was born. The tension as she tries to earn his love is palpable and at times, heartbreaking, but it wasn’t so overwhelming that it weighed down the book. It is a part of Haack’s story, but it is not the whole story, and there is certainly redemption to be found when we explore and acknowledge the brokenness in our lives.The Exact Place is the second book published by Kalos Press, and I am so excited by their work so far. If you buy the print copy, they will give you the ebook for free, fantastic for people like me who appreciate both print and digital mediums for reading. Also, you can lend out your copy of the physical book while retaining your digital copy, just in case you need it.As childhood memoirs go, this is a lovely and moving work. Though it is spiritual, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and has moments of levity and joy as well as pain and yearning. It’s real and it’s good, just like I expected from Margie Haack. If you like memoirs or are familiar with the Haacks, I highly recommend it to you.

  • Andd Becker
    2019-03-03 06:50

    Every page in this book is interesting. Effortlessly, it seems, the memoirist pulls the reader into the story. The style is captivating. Down-to-earth remembrances ensnare the reader.Does the author know how good her writing is? I received this book free through the goodreads FIRST READS program.

  • Spencer Cummins
    2019-03-05 10:47

    The Exact Place: A Memoir by Margie L. HaackDeep in the woods of northwestern Minnesota where the temperatures drop easily below freezing and the neighbors drop in at any time, Margie L. Haack tells the story of her life growing up with five siblings, a mother and a stepfather. The portrait she weaves is both intimately personal and public, brimming with details of her search for her stepfather’s love and the daily grind of life on a farm. Margie’s writing shines forth with an amazing clarity on account of her willingness to bring the reader to experience what she has experienced and to step back with a perceptive glance at the details of her own life. One of my absolute favorite parts of the book was Margie’s description of her early love for reading. Although Margie wasn’t led early on in reading by her family, her passion for books came to the surface very early on in life. She describes it by writing, “Words began to light up in spellbinding stories…..Books exploded into talking horses, trolls living under bridges, and the poetic order of “twelve little girls in two straight lines” who “left the house at half-past nine” (153). Starting from a lower reading level and quickly moving up to the top, Margie devoured anything that came her way. This part of the book was akin to my own experience with books, the sense that they opened up new worlds, new ideas, and new thoughts that wouldn’t let go from your mind.Early on the book, Margie writes, “By the time I was nine, I had five brothers and sisters and Dad had distilled laws for children into one basic rule: “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” In other words, obey me. ..I was always vigilant trying to discern unspoken rules conveyed by a look or a sudden movement of his hand” (12). The ever winding road of obedience to an authority figure was cast for Margie at an early age. Yet, there was a never ending quest for seeking to please her dad, wanting that ‘Good girl’ encouragement, that tender Fatherly care to come out of her relationship with her dad. The beauty of this memoir is that Margie in passages like this one draws out the internal self-conversation that takes place with an amazing sensitivity to her own heart and motives. In seeking to please Wally with her chores and activities around the farm, Margie began to ask similar questions of God. “God must, I thought, need to be won by the same sort of hard work and allurement my human father apparently required. And yet, what would God need that I could give?” (180). Yet, as she indicates, the memorizing of certain passages of Scripture lead her to a fuller understanding of God as Father and his care for her.Margie brought to life the experiences and details of life on a farm, from the colors of the forest to the stupidity of the sheep. I couldn’t put this book down, it was much like a character in a good novel that you can’t tear yourself away from. Rather than paint over the painful and difficult moments of life, Margie takes the reader to those moments and brings them face to face with their own world.Much thanks to Kalos Press, an imprint of Doulos Resources for the complimentary copy of this book in exchange for review.

  • J.E. Jr.
    2019-02-27 04:40

    [Full disclosure: I edited this book, and I am the Publisher at Kalos Press, the publishing house that produced it.]I first learned of Margie’s book when I read an article in which a friend of hers knew that Margie had been searching — in vain — for a publisher for her memoir. I’ve known Margie (and her husband Denis) for years, and have always enjoyed their writing through Ransom Fellowship, Critique magazine and Margie’s Notes from Toad Hall newsletter. Surely, I thought, any manuscript of Margie’s would be worth taking a look at. I was right. I read it quickly and easily, with the stories flying off the page and into my imagination. The Exact Place is a wonderful book, well-written and heartfelt, with engaging stories from Margie's childhood and youth. She reveals much of herself in these pages, even if subtly and with a modest consideration for not telling too much. I love how Margie gives permission and blessing to those whose path to faith is neither straight nor obvious, even though she herself began to embrace faith early. I could see this being a book I invite my daughters to read in their early teens, introducing them to a companion in life as emerging adult women of faith. Thanks, Margie, for the writing such a delightful book!

  • Lee
    2019-03-16 08:34

    This is simply a delight to read. To be honest I have known Margie and her husband Denis for many years and this is the first memoir I have read by someone I know. Margie's writing is so good that you can almost taste the blueberries, feel the cold Minnesota winters and smell the multitude of smells associated with living on a farm. I would recommend this to everyone I know.

  • Jenni Simmons
    2019-02-22 05:58

    My review is coming soon. In the meantime, read this:"Let Them Kiss the Dog: An Interview with Margie Haack" by Katy Bowser on the Art House America Blog.

  • Joanne
    2019-03-14 12:37

    I really liked this memoir of Margie growing up in rural northern Minnesota. She is a lovely writer, and reflects back upon incidents in her childhood to point out where she experienced spiritual awakenings, such as of conscience, when she accidentally causes her dog's death. She writes poignantly about unsuccessfully seeking her step-father's love, which she sees as impetus for her own seeking of God later. It's hard to write about faith without sounding cloying, and she succeeds.It reminded me a little of Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, though I think it's better. Including recipes is a little hokey, though.I'm not familiar with Ransom Fellowship, so will look that up.Nice quote on parenting:No amount of good parenting could have satisfied the longing in my heart. Observing my own children as they grew up, I experienced a kind of déja vu pain, and remembering, it pierced me again -- only now, here I was with our own children, and as much as I wanted to spare them every hurt, I couldn't seem to stop failing them as they urgently searched for ways to satisfy their own intense needs. I believe every parent's inability to parent perfectly can be used by God to touch and turn us to the only source who can and will one day completely heal the cosmic bereavement of finding out that none truly loves or knows us. My step-father unwittingly assisted this process, and I turned toward a deeper love. I know that the failures, even the abuse of others, or my own failure to be the perfect lover is not the end of the story. To me, the ways of God are a bit crazy and certainly, nearly always, counter-intuitive, but they bless me almost speechless. I am humbled, I am freed, I am loved. -- pp. 165-166 Thanks, Tim!

  • Tim
    2019-03-16 08:48

    An engaging memoir of growing up in the 50s in northern MN (almost Canada), on swampy farmland, in a three-room shotgun shack with six kids. Margie is the eldest, born after her mother was widowed at seventeen. Her stepfather takes care of her, but never loves her like the five that are his own. This might sound bleak, but the stories in the book are told with love of detail and place that makes her life of poverty (school kids let her know she was poor) one of adventure and even joy. The details of canning, horseback riding, reading, hard work on the farm, are intimately told and very appealing. She even includes recipes. It is a spiritual memoir, gently and wisely told.

  • Terry Kreutzkamp
    2019-03-16 08:36

    What a beautiful memoir!

  • Tamara Murphy
    2019-02-20 06:34

    What are the chances I read two books from Kalos Press -- a press I've never noticed before -- in the same month? And in that same month, discover a blogging, Anglican, Binghamton acquaintance is writing a book for the same press? Just interesting, don't you think?I've had Margie Haack's memoir on my to-read list since it was first published. I kept thinking it would be at my library and it never was. Last week I received a serendipitous Amazon gift card and spent it immediately on this book. (The other book I purchased was My Bright Abyss by Christian Wiman which I read last fall and wanted desperately to mark up the library's copy with a highlighter and pen. Now I can!)The Exact Place was easy to read in one day, not because it was a "page-turner" in the normal sense of that description but because it was so warm and interesting and loveable. Ms. Haack manages to tell gently and truthfully the story of her childhood both validating pain and embracing sweetness. Also, the setting of northern Minnesota is clear and winsome. The authentic view of farm life made me want to wave the book in front of Wendell Berry's face and say "See! This is why rural kids leave home!" Not because I grew up on a farm, but the Mad Farmer makes me feel a bit contrarian. As I've mentioned before.

  • ladydusk
    2019-03-18 08:38

    Own on Kindle.Magie Haack had quite the childhood. In this book, she reviews her life and relates God's hand in it. She says that her childhood was in the 'exact place' she was to be -- which, very often would be the opposite of her personal choice.In her somewhat primitive, cramped home (at least in 20th C America), her step-father always disapproved and seemed to disdain her. She spent her childhood working for the approval of one who would never approve. In one of the most poignant chapters of the book, Haack explores the ideas of father-hunger and God-hunger. She seeks approval from God as she did from her step-father. The relief is palpable. Haack relates the good, the bad, and the ugly. She tells of her escapades primarily with her brother Randy. She shares the shame she felt about her lifestyle when confronted by peers. She shares joys and successes. I enjoyed the story and Haack's writing. The chapters are longer which makes reading 'a chapter before bed' a trickier read for me. Glad I read it.

  • Andrew
    2019-03-12 08:01

    Margie Haack and I grew up in the same state at the same time. After that, almost everything is different. She grew up in northern Minnesota. I grew up in southern Minnesota. Her home was rural. Mine suburban. She had a fundamentalist upbringing. Mine was Catholic. Her family had very limited financial resources. Mine was well-to-do. She was the oldest child. I was the youngest. Her family was blended. Mine was intact. As a result of all this, as you might expect, while my growing up years are pretty dull to retell, hers are fascinating.One example. We once had a cat who tried to bring a chipmunk into the house. She and her brother brought a horse into their house on several occasions. 'Nuf said.As with all good memoir, and this is one, the particularities of her experiences illuminate universal themes, themes such as that of love and the desire to be loved, of spiritual questions and yearnings, of human frailties and strengths, of being a child and growing into adulthood. As a result, we have a reading here that is thoroughly rewarding.

  • Sara
    2019-03-15 10:00

    The more memoirs I read, the more I'm convinced that the best ones don't necessarily recount extraordinary stories about a person's life, but instead have authors who've developed unique insight into their past experiences, and weaved that insight into their stories. I can't relate to much in Margie Haack's childhood (I didn't grow up poor, or on a farm, for starters) and I'll admit that I did hit a "dry spell" in the middle of the book where I had to skim some sections about her relationships with animals (I'm not even an animal-liker, much less lover), but I as I've thought about this book since I put it down, I've grown more grateful for Haack's perspective on her life, her story-telling gifts, and her overall integrity as a person. I recommend this one.

  • Hope
    2019-03-02 13:01

    First of all, this book is about a young girl's hunger for a father's love. Every page is loaded with the heaviness of her stepfather's rejection, making it a ponderous read. Second, the book is about the glory of everyday things. "I loved the daily ritual of feeding a crowd of chickens who waited eagerly for you to dump their oats and mash into the feeders, of gathering eggs so fresh they were still warm in your cupped hand, of throwing slabs of hay over the fence to the horses who nickered to you as they watched..." Third, the book is about finding grace in the dark places, which is why I liked it very much.But I didn't love it because of the author's choice to use crass language. I know it's trendy for Christians to swear, but I still found it disheartening.

  • B.j. Larson
    2019-03-05 12:34

    I so enjoy memoirs and this one was a delightful read. Her experiences growing up were unlike any of mine but her descriptions intrigued me and transported me to another time and place. Since my dad also grew up farming, I think it gave me a deeper appreciation for him. Some of her antics made me laugh out loud and her personal perspectives are just what I hope to hear from an elder when I go to sit down with them and listen to their story. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a memoir-loving reader.

  • Luke
    2019-03-13 08:45

    A charming, touching memoir, and a reminder that we can find beauty and love in any environment; that we should appreciate and enjoy and find the beauty in the place and situation where are are located. At first, I wondered where these stories were headed. They were enjoyable, but what did they mean? She tied them up together in a charming faith journey. I found myself caring about these people and would like to know more about their life.

  • Heather
    2019-02-26 13:02

    I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway.I was happily surprised by this book. I love memoirs and this one was filled with heart and humor. It seemed to have the perfect balance between childhood naïveté and personal introspection. Very well written and beautifully set in a true wilderness.

  • Hwydiva
    2019-03-16 09:51

    This girl has spunk. I found myself wishing that I spent my childhood as wild and carefree as she did. The openness about spirituality and the long lasting desires for a father's love gives this book true depth.

  • Rides2far
    2019-03-10 07:43

    Loved it. Well written. Makes me wish I could remember the exact stuff we did as kids because her memories have that ring of truth that brings back memories of things my friends and I did...only it wasn't 20 below at my house!

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-08 07:36

    This book was so smartly written, with so much detail, that I was interested from the first page to the last. I really like memoirs that are well-written and accessible, and this one was no exception. Well done, Margie Haack! I'm looking forward to your next book now.

  • Shemaiah
    2019-02-19 12:39

    The structure is all over the place but the core stays with you. Haack shows how God revealed Himself to her over the course of her childhood. How being poor and unloved by her step father was actually a blessing. The last line tied the entire book together.

  • Stephen
    2019-03-07 11:39

    Pure delight. Margie's writing is earthy, tender, hilarious sometimes, and real always.

  • Hannah Martell
    2019-03-17 10:44

    I loved this book. Some of her stories are funny, some are heart-breaking and all are written in a way that draws you right into her surroundings. A beautiful memoir. I highly recommend it!