“When I write, I suspend judgment of my characters. I really love them.” – Elizabeth Strout. I was lucky enough to attend an author reading with Elizabeth Strout and was able to hear her read a passage from her latest book, My Name is Lucy Barton. It’s always a pleasure to hear an author read their work so this was a great experience!
The book is told from Lucy Barton’s perspective and while it’s a shorter novel, it covers many powerful issues. The most prominent is the relationship between a mother and daughter. The book switches between a period when Lucy is in the hospital with flashbacks to her childhood. Lucy grew up in a very poor household, her family of five living in a garage when she was young. Lucy and her mother have a very complicated relationship, but at the same time it is very simple in this: they love each other irrevocably. Her mother has never been on a plane, but flies out to Lucy while she is in the hospital and stays by her bedside for 5 days. During this time we see Lucy ‘s memories of pain, fear and love, although it is done very subtly.
A couple of my favorite quotes from the book are the following:
“It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.”
“I feel that people may not understand that my mother could never say the words I love you. I feel that people may not understand: It was all right.”
I really liked My Name is Lucy Barton! Because it’s a shorter book it’s very quick, but very consuming at the same time.