From the author of My Name is Lucy Barton
and the smashing hit Olive Kitteridge
the HBO mini-series starring Frances McDormand (I loved) — Elizabeth Strout once again "wows" readers and her avid fans, with her insights into the human psyche — when ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Extraordinary novels,
deftly combining lyrical prose with heartrending subject matter. A desperate need to be understood and accepted. Compelling!
Nine powerful and emotional stories. Grace and forgiveness. Flawed people who have experienced tragedy and haunting childhoods, abuse, mental illness, injustice, poverty, bullying, regrets, torment, war trauma, imploding lives, marriage problems, and severe loss. People who hide
behind social status. A sense of entitlement. Those who have survived and yet still remain with their own scars.
There have been deep fissures in each of these families. The cracks. Some have been pushed to the breaking point, with shattering, unforeseeable consequences.
If you read My Name Is Lucy Barton
(highly recommend), you may be rushing back to the title to refresh yourself, as I found myself doing. Lucy came
from a poor and dysfunctional family. She was determined and managed to escape the small town of Amgash, IL. She was diligent and became a successful author. She ultimately forgave her parents.
However, the scars of her past
and the people who shaped her life, and the way she was treated by her family, siblings, and people of this town have haunted her. Strout takes us back
to some of the characters, cousins, family members, neighbors, school classmates, and siblings. We learn of the heartaches and fears, the narrow-minded thinking of these people. Where are these people today? Discovering how harsh words and actions stay with people. A profound message. Even when someone succeeds,
there are those who try and tear down the things we are most proud of. Each story sends a powerful message. Who do they blame? Are they accountable for their actions? Broken people.
Such hope for us all if only can learn to communicate. Not only with our families but the people whom we come in contact with on a daily basis. Intuitive. Being able to help those who need someone to care.
We can see from the outside a dysfunctional family can fall prey to those in a small town who do not really understand what's going on with the family as a whole, or those that make up the family (s).We each have
our own favorite stories in the collection. I enjoyed the story of Tommy, Pete, Patty, and Lucy’s return to town which did not go as expected when Vicky (sister) brings up the horrors of the past and Lucy has a panic attack driving her away. I also enjoyed the people from her past which showed up at her book signing. Family dysfunction,
problems, and crossing social classes; people are mean and they are ugly. A cruel world and Strout does not hold back. A reminder to us all. One act of compassion, caring, or kindness can make all the difference in the word. The characters in the nine stories
are shaped and at the same time, haunted by their past. They still feel trapped by the difficulties in their present day relationships and their inability to say how they truly feel. The author is a master at drawing you into the lives of her characters as she weaves in her powerful observations of human complexities and interactions. From anger, frustration, and bullying mixed with fear and cruelty. I love this stand-out author!
Her writing just keeps getting better and betters. Beautifully written, with each book I read, it makes me return to re-read or perhaps one I missed. Strout is authentic, prolific, and has mastered her skilled craft at getting inside her character’s heads, heart, and soul. They come alive on the page.
If you come from a small town
and you happen to be the one who left and got away (I am) and became successful— you will resonate with these stories. Often those left behind are often bitter and resentful, and lash out in hateful ways and try to destroy another’s happiness when they do not have the facts. Their views are narrow and they do not think big and wide outside the box. They could have made the choice to leave. Everyone has choices. How hard do we want to strive for a better life is the question.
If you have not watched Olive Kitteridge
I highly recommend. I want to watch it over and over. It stays with you. I am hoping we will get to see Anything is Possible and My Name is Lucy Barton,
will be played out on the big screen. These are powerful stories that people can connect with on many levels. There is always hope, forgiveness, and love amidst the imperfections.
We are reminded that in life Anything is Possible!
For me the Washington Post
article by Susan Scarf Merrell offers the perfect summary of ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE:
. . . “These stories return Strout to the core of what she does more magnanimously than anyone else, which is to render quiet portraits of the indignities and disappointments of normal life, and the moments of grace and kindness we are gifted in response.
Such a simple goal, so difficult to achieve. Each of these stories stands alone, but they are richer in juxtaposition to the others. And that’s because over the years, from angle after angle, Strout has been packing and unpacking how silence works — between people, within a single person, on the page, in the spaces between stories.
Omission is where you find what makes a writer a writer; it is in the silences where forgiveness and wisdom grow, and it is where Strout’s art flourishes. This new book pushes that endeavor even further.” . . . Read More
Well said. I just purchased Amy and Isabelle
and Abide with Me
audiobooks, I missed along the way. Highly recommend this author.
"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in." —Leonard Cohen
This book reminds me of a plaque I have on my desk:
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
I am reminded of this each time I return to my small hometown and family. Fans of Fredrik Backman
will enjoy the exploration of small town characters and the examination of the fragile human spirit. A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an early reading copy.JDCMustReadBooks