Please note: I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influences my opinions of my review.
Synopsis (from GoodReads):Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
Review:My Name is Lucy Barton is the kind of book that reveals itself slowly, subtly, and sublimely to the reader. Told in the first person, Lucy is recovering in the hospital from complications of a surgery. She is there for many weeks when she gets a five day visit from her estranged mother. The two haven't spoken in decades but, now that Lucy is so ill, the mother comes to sit with her daughter and keep vigil over her. I love how the story unfolds so gracefully. Through conversations with her mother, we begin to catch glimpses of Lucy's difficult childhood. So much is conveyed without any direct explanation. Is the Mom there to ask for forgiveness (and if so, for what)? We also see small inklings of Lucy's marriage beginning to fray. Just small tidbits of information tell the reader so much.
The beauty of this book is that it is so authentic to the situation of surviving an abusive, terrifying childhood. Although it may be great drama to have tearful confrontations with your parents, in real life people don't behave that way. No one wants to talk about what happened, EVER. And yet, as we grow older, there can be a better understanding (if not forgiveness) of what went down, and why people behaved the way they did. I was also moved by the small ways in which her upbringing affects her everyday life as an adult. Situations that seem normal for most people are triggers for Lucy, bringing up emotions and physical symptoms that have her needing to escape.
The author use of language is crafted to show small details about the characters. As the mother tells a story, particular speech patterns are seen. Those same patterns are later used by Lucy. You can tell she is her mother's daughter. Perhaps that is why she can still love her mother after all that happened. It may also be inferring that Lucy might make some of the same mistakes as her mother in similar circumstances.
I thought this book was a beautifully written tale of the adult aftermath of a screwed up childhood. It wasn't a sensational attempt at grabbing your sympathy. But it was powerful and deep in a realistic way that gave it an authority over the subject matter. I highly recommend this book.
Release Date: January 12, 2016
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Recommendation: Full of understated power, this is an emotionally satisfying book.
Would I read another book from this author? Yes!