“I was lonely. Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.”
Lucy Barton grew up dirt poor, was abused by her father and ostracized by most in her small farming community of Amgash, Illinois. With help from some teachers and her own good grades, she was able to leave home and go to college. Eventually she got married, had two daughters and became a successful writer. Yet despite her parents’ inability to demonstrate or speak of their love, Lucy herself is full of love. She loves her adopted city of New York, her family and neighbors and even the doctor who cares for her during a nine-week hospital stay. When her estranged mother comes for an unexpected five-day visit her during this hospitalization, Lucy cautiously asks her about some things she never understood while growing up—why as a child, was she locked up during the day in her dad’s truck? Why did her father parade her crying brother downtown in their mother’s underwear? Lucy accepts her mother’s continued silence on these issues and more because, with help from others along the way, she has come to understand that: “we never knew, and never would understand another person fully.”
Elizabeth Strout has once again created in Lucy a character I came to love. My Name Is Lucy Barton is short novel told in first person, the reader goes along with Lucy on her journey to first understand and then tell her own story, separating hers from those of others. Aware of her shortcomings and generously willing to forgo judging others, Lucy Barton’s spirit shines brightly on every page of this remarkable book.
(will be published in January 2016, but you can put a hold at Cook Library on it by clicking here)