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Publisher's Summary

Pulling Down the Barn eloquently recalls author Anne-Marie Oomen's personal journey as she discovers herself an outsider on her family farm located in western Michigan's Oceana County, in the township of Elbridge - a couple hundred acres in the middle of rural America. Written as a series of heartfelt interlocking narratives, this collection of essays portrays the realities of farm life: haying, picking asparagus and cherries, the machinery of tractors and pickers; but each chapter also touches upon the more ethereal and rarely articulated: the stoic love that permeates a family, the farmer's struggle with identity, and the way land can shape a childhood. With its rich language and style, Pulling Down the Barn engrosses the listener in Oomen's memories - setting beauty and wonder against work and loss - and paints a poignant portrait of growing up in rural Michigan.

Winner of the Michigan Notable Book Awards. The book is published by Wayne State University Press.

©2004 Wayne State University Press (P)2015 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Anne-Marie Oomen has written a perfect gem of a book: deceptively quiet, delicately structured, but with the enduring force, strength, and brilliance of a diamond." (A. Manette Ansay, author of Limbo and Vinegar Hill)
"Pulling Down the Barn is a vivid and magical work." (Barbara Hurd, author of Entering the Stone: On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark)
"Pulling Down the Barn is a wonderfully lyrical and evocative memoir." (Michael Steinberg, founding editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction and author of Still Pitching: A Memoir)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Lots of little tiny stories

Would you listen to Pulling Down the Barn again? Why?

Most likely won't listen to it again. It was ok, and the details were good, it was just sometimes there was too many tiny details that it was easy to get sidetracked from what was going on with the people.

If you’ve listened to books by Anne-Marie Oomen before, how does this one compare?

No i havn't

Which scene was your favorite?

I found the whole party line for the phones pretty cool. My mom had that all while growing up and my grandma still had times where neighbors calls could be heard when she picked up the phone in the mid to later 80s.

I also liked the part where the one brother was hurt by the other brother, yelling to the parents that the one brother had been killed/was dead, and then all the kids getting in trouble even though only the 2 boys did the actions.... so typical for a lot of parents even today.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, it was good to listen to a few stories and come back later and listen to a few more.

Any additional comments?

"This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast."

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Pulling Down the Barn

Many interwoven short stories about growing up on a Michigan farm. The overall premise is good, but the tales sometimes ramble.



The narration was well done.The characters were well portrayed.


“This audiobook was given by the narrator at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review."

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Rich use of language sets this apart

If you could sum up Pulling Down the Barn in three words, what would they be?

Insightful, beautiful hardships

What other book might you compare Pulling Down the Barn to and why?

Little House on the Prairie but more modern (and better writing)

Which scene was your favorite?

Describing how her mother interrupts stories and figuring out why.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes. The anguish of The Tractor.

Any additional comments?

I loved this book and may re-listen again very soon. The narrator took some time getting use to (a bit slow and too careful with diction) but warmed up especially toward the end.
"This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of Audiobook Blast."

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

farm life

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

No. The story rambled a lot and I had a hard time staying with it.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I like the descriptions of farm life, though some of the dangers the kids got into were hard to experience.

What does Michelle Babb bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I like the way she voices the different characters.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Experience life growing up on a family farm.

Any additional comments?

A free copy of this audiobook was provided by the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Farm Gods' Rejection

This is (as far as I can tell) a stand alone novel constructed of loosely connected essays.


Michelle Babb's performance makes listening to this book an enthralling and entertaining experience :)


This book was surreal. Listening to the way the girl thought and saw the world was a unique experience. I was caught up in the narrative and fully immersed even when I did not completely understand what the subject matter was :) I really enjoyed this experience!


***This title is suitable for listening(reading) by young adult through adult readers who enjoy historical fiction with a dash of fantasy :)

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Snippets of a rural coming of age

Pulling Down the Barn is a wonderful memoir by Anne-Marie Oomen, a poet and playwright. Midwestern rural life in the late 1950s, early 1960s is the setting of this collection of remembrances of a young girl trying to find her place. Telling of harsh winters, times of harvesting--cherries, asparagus, apples, driving (and crashing) a tractor for the first time, Ms. Oomen brings a lyrical story to her readers. Each chapter pulls the reader into this country family and the myriad experiences of their life on the farm. Migrant workers, massive beehives in the wall of the house, rope-swinging in the barn are just a few of the nostalgic stories retold in the book. Michelle Babb does a remarkably enjoyable job of narrating the audiobook, with excellent inflection and intonation. Pulling Down the Barn is an enchanting account of life in a different and perhaps idyllic age.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Childhood Rambling

Would you try another book from Anne-Marie Oomen and/or Michelle Babb?

Michelle Babb, yes. Anne-Marie Oomen not really

What was most disappointing about Anne-Marie Oomen’s story?

The book was a series of short stories so one would expect different topics. But within the story there was continual rambling that made the overall story difficult to follow.

What does Michelle Babb bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The different voices for the multiple characters. Just when I think she can't come up with another voice, here comes the priest which is totally different. She also made the scenes when the children were in dangerous situations or hurt much more intense.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The actual childhood adventures were interesting and brought back many memories of my own childhood.