My Name Is Lucy Barton

Elizabeth Strout. Random, $26 (208p) ISBN 978-1-400-06769-5
Despite its slim length, Strout’s (The Burgess Boys) tender and moving novel should be read slowly, to savor the depths beneath what at first seems a simple story of a mother-daughter reconciliation. Lucy Barton is shocked when her mother, from whom she’s been estranged for years, flies from tiny Amgash, Ill., to be at Lucy’s hospital bedside in New York. Convalescing from a postsurgery infection, Lucy is tentative about making conversation, gently inquiring about people back home while avoiding the real reason why there’s been no contact with her parents. Strout develops the story in short chapters in which the reader intuits the emotional complexity of Lucy’s life as she reveals long-buried memories of an isolated, profoundly impoverished childhood and the sexual secrets, “the knowledge of darkness,” that shrouded her life. Though her mother calls her Wizzle, an endearing childhood name that implies warmth and closeness, she is unable to tell Lucy that she loves her. Running counter to the memories of her harsh, stoic upbringing is Lucy’s anguish at missing her own two daughters, waiting for her at home. Lucy also reflects on other cruelties of life in New York City, specifically the scourge of AIDS (the setting is the 1980s) and the underlying troubles of her marriage. Her narrative voice is restrained yet expressive. This masterly novel’s message, made clear in the moving denouement, is that sometimes in order to express love, one has to forgive. Agent: Molly Friedrich, Friedrich Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/19/2015
Release date: 01/05/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 240 pages
Prebound-Glued - 240 pages - 978-0-606-39462-8
Ebook - 978-0-8129-8907-6
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4676-2228-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-96711-4
Library Binding - 500 pages - 978-1-62899-849-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5247-5472-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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