My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
The strangest thing happened in September. I could not read. I could not make my brain turn the curves of letters into words, and those words into a story. For one month I tried, but could not read. Then a lovely thing happened, October began. The flipping of the calendar was the magic stroke. I opened this book and read it in three days.
My Name is Lucy Barton is simple, and sad, and tender to the core. Lucy goes into the hospital with appendicitis, and stays there for five weeks. Mysterious fever and symptoms keep her away from her husband and two children at home. She wakes up from a nap, and her mother has materialized at the foot of her bed. After years of separation, her mother’s comfort is as strange as her sickness. Lucy delves deep into old memories, to her childhood lived outside of acceptable society. Her parents were consistently just above complete ruin. Lucy and her siblings suffered through being poor and outcast in a small town. Lucy processes her memories from reality, as she waits to heal and go home. She wrestles with the opposing forces of relief and frustration from seeing her mother. This book is about the power of family, how one can suffer at the hands of a parent, but also long to be with them. Strout has woven a simple story about breaking familial patterns, loving sacrificially, and coping with joy and pain. If you read to savor the pleasure of feeling deeply, this book is for you. It is a quiet, and powerfully packed with emotional depth. The writing is stunning.
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