Review: My Name is Lucy Barton

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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.

Poetry: Mixed, not Blended

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We live in sprawling mansions on the hill

People beneath us living across the tracks

Oh yes, we get along quite well

But we really know the facts

We live in a mixed community

Right outside of New York City

Embracing all of our differences

Blatant segregation is such a  pity

Of course our friends aren’t only white

We volunteer at the shelter every Tuesday night

Ensuring that we keep our cliques so tight

Keeping a watchful eye on everyone in sight

We’d like our children to have a play date

Should it be at my mansion or at your place?

Agreeing that our children get along so great

Sorry, we have to cancel but, of course, it’s not due to your race!

The greatest farce is that we blend together, that’s the rub

People are brushed aside as if they’re just a bug

Continuing to hide behind our sky high shrubs

While all of our children share the same drugs.