Book Critique: Anne Lamott “Grace Eventually”

Grace Eventually book coverWhile her style and tone is still very much the same as it was in Travelling Mercies, there is different. It didn’t grip me, wrap itself around me, and touch the deep, dark parts of me that Travelling Mercies did. This book was more about her daily life; muddling through, much like she did before, but different. Her life seems to be this tug-o-war between the realities of life and her need/desire for God. For me, this is an interesting dynamic because at the same time that I get it, I don’t understand it at all. She puts God on a shelf. Tucked neatly way and she seeks him out like a piece of childhood resurrected from her past to relive moments of solace.

I love the way she takes moments of life and thinks deeply about them. She tells the story of a time when she and her son moved from one house to another and he is having trouble adjusting to his new room. He starts by sleeping outside his mother’s room. She see’s his baby steps of scooching night after night toward his new room and away from his mother to the way she scooches through life. She sees a lesson for her own life in the lessons of her child’s. She recognizes that it is in our troubles, in the hard parts of life when we grow and learn.

I think the trouble for me with this book is that she is experiencing a part of her life I have yet to experience. She is older and I am without the years to connect with her. I can see myself experiencing these things in life in much the same we dream for ourselves a future we have no knowledge of or experience. My lack of connection is not because she changed, it is because I have not yet been changed by these life events. I can see how a woman already through menopause and well on her way to retirement, yet still so full of life disbelieving what the mirror and the calendar say her age is.

As I continued through the book I noticed her stories were not chronological, which helps when one cannot connect emotionally to a story. I also realized that Anne is a wonderful story-teller. She weaves experience and events that could and do happen to everyone, and thoughtful insight about what those things mean. Despite my having a disconnect in parts of the book, she manages to pull me back in with mundane, but stories of her life that most can relate to. For example her story about the rug and fighting with the owner. I have many times experienced something similar, and yet, she grew more than I ever have in those cases. She bought the man flowers and apologized for her behavior. Ego so often prevents such behavior and seems astonishing to the reader who is championing her bad behavior because what the owner did was unfair.

She uses everyday events to tell her story about life and that is what I hope to be able to incorporate into my own writing.

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