Sunday, January 15, 2012

Anne Lammott: Imperfect Birds

Oh, Anne, oh Rosie- how I loved you. In fact, fiction, how I loved you! It seems my fiction days are numbered. (I think I've dwelled on this before, but I've also dwelled on the numbering of my memory days, so I'll skip that one for now.) I'm going to blame my total dislike of this book on my falling out with fiction as the previous two "Rosie" books were some of my historical favorites. This book was so hard to read, so hard to engage with that I seriously considered putting it down, even as I kept reading it in the hopes of redemption. Both mom, Elizabeth, and daughter, Rosie, had gotten so lost in themselves that they were unlikeable: sure, Rosie is supposed to be unlikeable as a teenager, that's the plot, and Elizabeth is supposed to be a troubled, angsty, self-absorbed mother, but this is over the top. How many times can we hear that people love to look at Rosie, as if her beauty is enough to make us like her? How many times can we watch Rosie drowning in drugs and hear about Elizabeth's struggles to stay sober without Anne Lamott coming in and make the obvious, even necessary, plot adjustment: drug issues clearly have family- nurture and nature- components. Is Elizabeth really that much of a straw character- the dysfunctional stay at home, unable-to-use-the internet mom- that she can't even get out of her denial long enough to even stage a cliche intervention?

Rosie and Elizabeth are underdeveloped as characters: maybe if the books (this is the third in a trilogy) were read back to back the book would work, but it doesn't stand alone, and the last book was 13 years ago. Anyone else got a better memory than me? (Oh, everyone does, but not that good!) The book stumbles along with mini-crisis after mini-crisis: Rosie is a spoiled brat with a burgeoning drug problem, and Elizabeth and husband James deal with it over and over and over and over and over until the last ten pages of the book when they Deal With It in the most anti-climactic and overdue climax of, well, any fiction book I've read in awhile. I'm not sure why I feel so let down, but I feel so let down.

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