Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

This book was just plain weird.  It was about a writer and one of the lessons she had been taught by a fictional writer/teacher is that "you only have one story".  Maybe Strout's one story was the Pulitzer Prize winning Olive Kitteridge, because there sure wasn't much story in this one.

The basic premise is the narrator reflecting on several weeks she spent in the hospital as a young mother, when her mother, with whom she had very little contact as an adult, comes to spend 5 days at her bedside.  Their interactions are awkward with the unspoken reminisces of a poverty stricken and abuse filled childhood.  But we never really hear the extent of the abuse, or even whether it was just at the hands of her father or the mother was also involved.  We also hear a little about her adult siblings, including a brother who still lives at home and is likely gay but was shamed for it as a child so has not come out.

We also learn a little of the narrator's troubled marriage (which ends a few years after the hospital stay) and the strain her separation places on her relationship with her daughters.

I guess we are meant to learn about the nature of troubled human relationships and how the shape adulthood, but mostly I was bored and kept reading on to see if eventually anything would happen.  It didn't.

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