I read Olive Kittridge and liked enough that I decided to try another by Elizabeth Strout and picked up My Name is Lucy Barton from the library.
I am really glad the book was as short as it was. A rambling meandering mess of a book. Lucy is an older adult looking back at a time when she was sick in the hospital for an extended period. Then, she was married with kids but her husband was
a wuss afraid of hospitals and she had been estranged from the rest of her family for years. Her husband arranged for her mom to fly in and come see her in the big city in the hospital and they had this …totally non-bonding .. time. They talked about everything, except the important stuff, about random people you never meet or hear about again in the book. The visit is so surreal, at one point I wondered if it really happened. I thought perhaps she had a high fever in the hospital and hallucinated her mother being there.
This episode is spliced between Lucy’s current life as a writer and her childhood, which she remembers as abusive and poverty stricken. The poverty is the truth. The abuse seems pretty ordinary coming from a generation in which kids were pretty regularly told to go pick a switch from tree for a whipping. Not that I am agreeing with it, I am just saying that it is not something extraordinary that the book was exploring. It was just boring. There was no big reveal. She never really reached any understanding of her mother or herself. She didn’t resolve the conflict with her father. There was no resolution or even understanding reached. On top of that, Lucy wasn’t even that likeable. A disappointing read from an author that I hear great things about.