Review: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Title: My Name is Lucy Barton
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Pages: 208
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Free ARC from Random House

Rating: A+

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Random House in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).

Summary: A prolonged illness brings Lucy’s semi-estranged mother to her hospital bed for five days, bringing back memories and needs that she had put aside.

Review: In the midst of reading this book, I posted the following to my FB book club:

When you inadvertently find yourself reading one of those books that hits you in the rawest of spots, unlocking the box of stuff-you-try-not-to-focus-on-anymore that you so expertly buried in the recesses of your mind, resulting in uncontrollable fits of crying over things you didn’t think you cared about anymore. And yet your love for the book equals your desperate need to lock that box up again as quickly as possible, so you are both savoring the last pages and anticipating the sweet salve of relief you’ll enjoy once it is all over. That.

And I think that sums up nicely my experience of this book. It hit home for me in a very profound and unexpected way. It was painful and cathartic and it made me ache deep down in the pit of my soul and it was beautiful. Because of my own experiences, this book felt like it was mine, like it was written for me. And I read it at a time when a particular frayed nerve that had been laying bare for days had finally begun to grow back a protective sheath, a nerve which this book then laid waste to, but in a very therapeutic and thought-provoking way.

Whether or not you have the visceral response that I did, whether or not you have had similar experiences in your own life, if you have an empathetic bone in your body, you will feel this book. Because, though it is a book about a specific set of relationships, it is about much more than that. It’s about how our own journeys color our views of the world, which influences the way we experience it, which impacts our interactions with those around us, and, in the case of our children, shapes their lives and their interactions. It’s about love and loss and loneliness, illness and recovery, finding ways to meet our own needs and sometimes needing to do so in ways that hurt the ones we love. It’s about forgiveness and acceptance and healing. For such a short book, it says so very much.

Having never read Elizabeth Strout before (that will be changing – Olive Kitteridge, I’ll see you soon!), I didn’t quite know what to expect, but the journey she took me on was both heart-wrenching and splendid. And the writing is exquisite.

Yes. A book I recommend whole-heartedly.


One Reply to “Review: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout”

  1. Pingback: Review: Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout | Mad Book Love

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