Book Critique: Anne Lamott “Travelling Mercies

Traveling Mercies book coverAnne Lamott’s “Travelling Mercies” is a quick read and engages the audience in a personal and emotional way. She walks through a chronological story about her life and how she came to her faith. Her opening paragraph is a concise synopsis of what her journey has been and how her life of faith led from one place to the next and weaved a fabric of beliefs together that supports her every day.

Within the first 100 pages, you are taken on an emotional roller coaster, as a woman of solid faith I am moved by her sad and unfortunate life. I am sure that Lamott would disagree with my view of her life, after all, our lives are our own and have made us who we are; another path would have made us someone else entirely. While passing judgment would be unfair, I certainly have a keen understanding of life handing out disappointment and tragedy. Her tragedies have directed her path to faith.

I think the best way to approach this book is not with the idea that you will learn about faith or how to go about finding it. Emotionally, I feel a kindred spirit to her own and while I may disagree with her in other areas of life, I see this book as simply this: a girl telling her story about what happened to her and how she got from childhood to adulthood. She doesn’t ask you to believe her. She requires no commitment of concession to her faith or thought processes. She simply says, “This is me.” That sense of openness, of transparency gives the reader the belief that, while not necessarily in agreement with her beliefs or the decisions she made, she can be trusted that what she says is true.

As a writer, I admire her ability to be vulnerable. I am always conscious of what others may think about me, whether it is founded or not. I would love to have the ability to be unashamed of what I have done and the choices I have made that has made me who I am. Not because I am proud of those actions, but because it is what has helped to shape who I am. Being that open and honest is not an option for me. Perhaps one day I will feel as liberated to speak freely as Lamott does in this book. There is freedom in bringing secrets buried in the dark to light. Lamott takes simple and sometimes devastating events and finds moments of faith in them. A lesson we all can learn, regardless of faith or spirituality.


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