Thursday, August 29, 2013
Book Review: Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott
Author: Anne Lamott
Enjoyment Rating: ****
This book would be rated: PG with occasional f-bombs
Some Assembly Required opens with the shocking news that Sam Lamott is about to become a father at the age of nineteen. His mom, Anne, goes through the normal range of emotions when hearing this news-- shock, dismay, mourning, uncertainty, and finally, excitement. When Jax arrives, Anne is present for the birth, and she spends the next year chronicling Jax's life.
As a mother who is not yet a grandmother, it felt a little strange to me at first that Lamott was journaling the first year of her grandson's life. She seemed way too involved. And I thought that if I were Amy, Jax's mom, I would feel smothered by her. But I also recognized that my mom and mother-in-law probably had similar protective emotions for my kids when they first became grandparents, and I definitely see that impulse in my mom's relationship with my sister's kids, who live with her.
But I soon started to see that Lamott's overbearing nature, her desire to be involved with and analyze the minutest details of Jax's life, her hurt feelings, her slights, were all part of the persona she has created for herself in her writing. This was my entree into Lamott (I have since decided to read a few more of her books, and they're now waiting on my nightstand), so it took me a bit to see that she's willing to highlight her imperfections in order to show that imperfect people need God. She needs God. And since we are all very much like she is in our hearts (resentful, anxious, bitter), we all need God too. I found this "warts and all" approach to be really refreshing. There are things about the book I think she handled beautifully (Sam and Amy's sometimes tumultuous relationship, for example) but since the book is a journal, there are also elements that seemed merely tangential (like her trip to India) that seemed to detract from the overall narrative. But I am hooked on Lamott. I can't wait to read more.