cover image Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

Anne Lamott. Riverhead, $20 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1358-6

With her trademark humor and candor, Lamott (Help, Thanks, Wow) explores the scriptural imperative from Old Testament Prophet Micah to “love mercy,” reviewing both the difficulties and the life-changing rewards of obeying this mandate. Casting a fresh eye on well-known biblical figures such as Jonah, the Good Samaritan, and Lazarus, Lamott drolly attests to the subversive yet sustaining power of simple acts of kindness in the face of life’s inevitable devastations: “This collective, imperfect, hesitant help is another kind of miracle. Naturally one wants to avoid these kinds of miracles.” Lamott’s collective first-person voice makes generalizations that may not resonate with all her readers (“Learning to read gave us a true oasis, salvation”), but in revealing her painful personal struggles, she taps into universal feelings. For example, Lamott recalls the fallout brought on by a “snarky public comment” she made that not only elicited public castigation (“My attackers were like a mob with pitchforks, shaming adorable, progressive me”) but, worse, caused an excruciating rift with her son. As in previous works, Lamott’s courageous honesty and humility, laced with wit and compassion, offer wisdom and hope for difficult times. (Apr.)