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Monday, April 18, 2016

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stroud

I was given this wonderful book as a present, as a way to make sure that I did not lose my way while I am undergoing chemotherapy.  I have had a tremendous and surprising lack of ability to read good fiction while this has been going on, and I used this slim book as an entry back into the world of reading something more memorable than murder mysteries and more age appropriate than young adult fiction (which I love, and am not the least bit concerned that I am far older than the target audience).
This is is both a book of withholdings and a book of great openness and wisdom. It starts with the clean, solid structure and narrative distance of a fairy tale yet becomes more intimate and improvisational.  We spend most of out time with Lucy during her nine week hospitalization.  Lucy has been estranged from her family, so when her mother shows up at her bedside three weeks into her ordeal, she is surprised.  Her mother offers no apologies.  Not for the abuse that Lucy suffered at the hands of her parents or the extreme poverty that she grew up in.  We learn about all of that throughout her mother's visit, and then just as suddenly as she arrived she leaves, and Lucy finishes out her story in short order.  It is sparse and jarring and very well written.

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