Review: My Name is Lucy Barton

MyNameLucy

RATING: 4 STARS

If you’ve ever been hospitalized, in between the routine tests and  x-rays, there are long periods of time spent alone. Free from the responsibilities of your life, long stretches of time will be spent not only healing physically but emotionally as well. This is the case in Elizabeth Strout’s latest book, My Name is Lucy Barton. Lucy Barton is a tender-hearted writer, who reflects on her own dysfunctional family, and tries to find her own story.
Set in the 1980’s, she spends nine weeks in the hospital after complications from an appendectomy. Lucy weaves her story back and forth between today and her childhood memories of poverty and mistreatment. 
During her illness, her mother, who she hadn’t seen in many years, visits her for five days in the hospital. The sole presence of her mother triggers Lucy’s childhood memories of her life in rural Illinois and her dysfunctional family. We learn about Lucy’s life story through short small life events. As Lucy’s mother rambles on about bad marriages, she is oblivious and unable to give Lucy what she craves the most – the demonstration of her love. As an adult, Lucy looks back with a fresh perspective and shares her life story in a simple manner. I felt an emotional connection with Lucy’s compassionate storytelling.
Although it’s a story of a woman’s ordinary life, Elizabeth Strout reveals the universal lesson about the human condition, that teaches us how to learn from our mistakes and live a better life. Highly recommended for those who enjoy women’s literature, relationships between mothers and daughters and skilled writing.
 

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Tales From The Family Crypt – 4 Stars

TaleFromFamilyCrypt

TALES FROM THE FAMILY CRYPT BY DEBORAH CARROLL

RATING:  4/5  STARS

Every family has some level of dysfunction. In Carroll’s memoir, she recounts the dysfunctional, toxic relationships between her siblings. In the middle of her book, I thought to myself, “It can’t get any worse” – but it did.  As each of her elderly parents or in-laws die, the breakdown of communication between siblings continues to spiral downward.  Carroll presented the difficulties of sibling rivalries, along with the anguish  surrounding the deaths of her parents and in-laws. Many of her relatable stories made me laugh out loud, yet just as many made me shudder.

Under the stress of elders dying, dysfunctional families  become even more verbally and emotionally destructive towards each other. The majority of people don’t even realize their toxic relationship with family members, because their behavior was considered normal and acceptable.  Healthy, open communication is one of the cornerstones of  family dynamics.

I’d  recommend this book because it demonstrates all families grow up with some level of dysfunction, some more than others. I’d especially recommend Tales From The Family Crypt for someone who is dealing with the death of  a close family member, since many underlying resentments begin to surface and it can be exasperating to deal with other family member’s reactions. Hopefully people will recognize dysfunctional family dynamics and correct them, before passing down the dysfunction  to the next generation.