Most helpful critical review
64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Very honestly written, but harsh tone defeats the message
on June 13, 2005
I first encountered Anne Lamott when I read Operating Instructions, her wonderful book about her first year with her son Sam. I have never read a more honest account of motherhood's beginnings, or one with more love shining through. I've tried since then to find another book by her to love, without success.
I agreed with almost all Lamott's views in this book---which are mostly political, despite this being subtitled a book about faith. So my mixed feelings about this book are not because of differing political views. Rather, I felt that the tone here was mostly harsh. That's honest---it's nice to read that faith doesn't turn us all into happy clones. But I guess when I read a book about faith, I would like to have some feeling of grace or of being uplifted or at least of happiness. After reading this book, I felt totally depressed about the state of the world.
I also felt often that Lamott was making fun of people she didn't agree with. Especially when I read about her cruise, and her discomfort with all the flag adorned people, it seemed she didn't really try to follow the basic Golden Rule. She seemed to have little regard for those she met, and it seemed as if she was on her own personal cruise---which is fine, but again, not really too uplifting.
It was great to hear more about Sam, at least from my point of view. From HIS point of view, I would guess that he might not want to have it in print that he could be very mean to other kids, that he got drunk a few times, that he doesn't like to go to church...all somewhat normal teenage things, but I always wonder if it's really a parent's place to write about their teenager. There were a few times that she said she wasn't allowed to say more about him, but that didn't always seem to apply.
The writing is skilled here, and the honestly refreshing---especially the section about starting a Sunday School and race. But I don't really know what the reason for being of this book is---I don't feel like I learned more about Lamott's faith, or was given insight into my own, or even just plain enjoyed the reading. I will be honest about this, as Lamott unfailingly is!