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Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith Hardcover – March 3, 2005

3.6 out of 5 stars 207 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Few people can write about faith, parenting, and relationships as can the talented, irreverent Anne Lamott. With characteristic black humor, ("Everyone has been having a hard time with life this year; not with all of it, just the waking hours") she updates us on the ongoing mayhem of her life since Traveling Mercies, and continues to unfold her spiritual journey.

Plan B finds Lamott wrestling with mid-life hormones and weight gain while parenting Sam, now a teenager with his own set of raging hormones. Her observations cover everything from starting a Sunday school to grief over the death of her beloved dog, Sadie; lamenting the war to bitterness over her relationship with her now-departed mother.

As she tugs and pokes out the knots in a slender gold chain necklace, it becomes a metaphor for letting go and learning to forgive. "…any willingness to let go inevitably comes from pain; and the desire to change changes you, and jiggles the spirit, gets to it somehow, to the deepest, hardest, most ruined parts." It’s her willingness to show us the knotted-up, "ruined parts" of her life that make this collection of sometimes uneven essays so compelling.

"Everything feels crazy," writes Lamott, adding, "But on small patches of earth all over, I can see just as much messy mercy and grace as ever…." Lamott’s essays will serve as reminders to readers of the patches of messy mercy and grace in a chaotic world.--Cindy Crosby

From Publishers Weekly

Five years after her bestselling Traveling Mercies, Lamott sends us 24 fresh dispatches from the frontier of her life and her Christian faith. To hear her tell it, neither the state of the country nor the state of her nerves has improved, to say the least. "On my forty-ninth birthday, I decided that all of life is hopeless, and I would eat myself to death. These are dessert days." Thankfully, her gift for conveying the workings of grace to left-wing, high-strung, beleaguered people like herself is still intact, as is her ability to convey the essence of Christian faith, which she finds not in dogma but in our ability to open our hearts in the midst of our confusion and hopelessness. Most of these pieces were published in other versions on Salon.com, and they cover subjects as disparate as the Bush administration; the death of Lamott's dog, her mother and a friend; life with a teenager and with her 50-year-old thighs--yet each shows how our hearts and lives can go "from parched to overflow in the blink of an eye." What is the secret? Lamott makes us laugh at the impossibility of it all; then she assures us that the most profound act we can accomplish on Earth is coming out of the isolation of our minds and giving to one another. Faith is not about how we feel, she shows; it is about how we live. "Don't worry! Don't be so anxious. In dark times, give off light. Care for the least of God's people!" Naturally, some pieces are stronger than others--her wonderful style can come across as a bit mannered, the wrapup a bit forced. But this is quibbling about a book that is better than brilliant. This is that rare kind of book that is like a having a smart, dear, crazy (in the best sense) friend walk next to us in sunlight and in the dark night of the soul.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition edition (March 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573222992
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573222990
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (207 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #340,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. L. Ferle on March 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Anne Lamott is not for the faint-hearted. A bookseller and I agreed last week that Lamott is an acquired taste and more enjoyable if you've read a lot of theology and still find your heart is broken. Lamott reminds us that sanitized piety should not be confused with real faith; that Jesus Himself had radical ideas and didn't sit around worrying about whether our kids are watching PG movies.

Lamott's personal relationship with Jesus is one she's forged on her own, against all odds, reminding us that faith doesn't always come in an apple-pie/right-wing/Miss-America package. She is a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work Christian -- a Christian who knows that it isn't enough to sit around quoting the Bible to be a good human being. Admitting her broken-ness and allowing us to laugh with her, we open our hearts to our own humanity. What a relief.
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Format: Hardcover
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith contains a series of essays by Lamott from her salon.com column that she wrote during the beginning of the Iraq War. As a left wing Christian, Lamott understandably has trouble with the war and George W. Bush. As if that weren't enough, she is also turning 50 and her son is becoming a teenager. Lamott writes of all these things with great candor and humor. She is breathtakingly honest, but not in a way that makes me cringe or think "too much information." She also writes of friends and loved ones with great affection and compassion that manages to avoid sentimentality. Lamott has the ability to be very funny and very wise at the same time, which is always a pleasure. As a person who more and more searches for straight forward honesty, I find Anne Lamott a welcome breath of fresh air. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Anne Lamott has written some wonderful texts, namely 'Operating Instructions; a Journal of My Son's First Year'. However, she has really fallen short of the mark with this collection of essays on religion, American presidency and her family.

Essentially, the greatest flaw of the work is its mind-numbing repetition. It unfailingly reinterates the same points and covers the same material in each and every essay or article.

Whilst I strongly agree with her endless tirade on George W. Bush and the state of American leadership, it does become slightly dull when repeated in every chapter. Similarly, I realise that she is angry at her mother and the behaviour of her son, but there is only so many times I can read about it. The work comes off as self-indulgent and Lamott herself is less likable in this work than her others.

Despite this, the text is beautifully written and does have a few topical highlights. These are generally the stories she shares about the unflinching beauty of others, such as 'Joice To The World' and 'One Hand Clapping'.

It is for this reason I give the work three stars, although it undoubtedly left a sour and negative taste in my mouth.
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Format: Hardcover
I feel like I'm not other reviewers of this book...I believe in the Christian teachings, but I am not a church-going, Bible-reading, Jesus-loving type. I don't do ANY of that stuff. In fact, I'm an atheist. So I was curious, but also a little hesistant. I've never read a book about faith before because any one I've ever picked up were all "fire and brimstone," "Jesus this, Jesus that," and it completely turned me off and turned me away. I picked up Anne Lamott's book at a tag sale & I knew who she was from "Bird by Bird," and I was willing to give her a shot because she has dreds. I know this sounds silly, but seriously, that was my deciding factor in reading a book about Christianity...the author has dreds.

It is FANTASTIC. This is coming from an avowed atheist who . I haven't been able to put the book of essays down since I bought it yesterday...she is nurturing whatever burgeoning spirituality I have inside me and making me think about thinks I have avoided thinking about before. That is all you can ask for from a book...that it makes you think.

The top two best things about Anne Lamott are 1) she's both really cool and really uncool at the same time, and 2) she's honest, even at the risk of having judgement passed on her. By 1) I mean that she's totally this Northern California, ex-alcoholic, progressive Bush-hating hippie, but she's also the mother of a teenager and writes about how they fight over him not having good manners.

By 2) I mean that she writes about her deceased mother very, very critically and that's so _refreshing_ for people who don't have nicey-nice, glowing things to say about our moms all the time.

I love her: I just bought 4 of her books off Amazon.

In summation: I feel calm after I read this book.
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