Monday, January 11, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton

by Elizabeth Strout

I have mixed feelings about this book.   When I initially finished reading I felt let down by how much of the story wasn't told but on further reflection I began to think the restraint was on purpose.

Lucy Barton went in the hospital for a simple appendix operation but three weeks later she is still in the hospital with an undiagnosed illness.  During that time her mother visits for five days. Lucy hasn't seen or talked to her mother in years.  The book's setting is those five days in 1980 when her mother came to visit her.

As her mother shares mundane gossip from their hometown, Lucy remembers scenes of extreme poverty and times of neglect and abuse.

The more I think about this book, the more powerful is its hold on me.  I have great admiration for the author.

Have you read this book?  What are your thoughts and feelings about it?  Did you like it?  Why or why not?


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Beside Myself

by Ann Morgan

Six-year-old Helen and Ellie are identical twins, but Helen is smarter, more popular, and their mother's favorite. Ellie, on the other hand, requires special instruction at school, is friendless, and is punished at every turn.
Until they decide to swap places--just for fun, and just for one day--and Ellie refuses to switch back. 
This book knocked the wind right out of me.  It was like falling from a tree and landing flat on your back.  I'm still trying to catch my breath.

Not always a pleasant reading experience, but definitely a powerful one.  Hats off to Ms. Morgan for capturing the feeling of loss of self and the spiraling descent into mental illness. Told from Helen's perspective,  I appreciated that towards the end of the book the author gave the reader a glimpse into Ellie's life as well.