Mattie Ryder is a marvelously funny, well-intentioned, religious, sarcastic, tender, angry, and broke recently divorced mother of two young children. Then she finds a small rubber blue shoe, the kind you might get from a gumball machine and a few other trifles that were left years ago in her father's car. They seem to hold the secrets to her messy upbringing, and as she and her brother follow these clues to uncover the mystery of their past, she begins to open her heart to her difficult, brittle mother and the father she thought she knew. And with that acceptance comes an opening up to the possibilities of romantic love.
The story revolves around a woman's quest to understand her family, her history and her own life. She longs for relationships and yet sees people (and herself) the way they are.
I wonder if the people who aren't as fond of this book perhaps haven't had the experiences that are the focus of the story. As a woman from a dysfunctional family with a geriatric mother, I'm always trying to understand the circumstances in which I find myself. This book was like a friend saying, "Yeah, I've felt exactly that same way. I've been through the same thing." Lamott's books aren't for everyone, but they are full of integrity and her own spirit. This book, in particular, is well written, with great dialog and a wonderful insight into people you know.
Another favorite of mine is Lamott's, "Rosie". Wonderful book.
So why didn't I like it more? I think it's because there's just too much happening. Too many events, described in minimal detail with very little background and context. Kind of like you'd get in a letter from a friend who'd witnessed the action.
That's not to say it was a lousy book, by any means. I didn't even seriously think about abandoning it part way through. I liked very much the story of Mattie's relationship with her aging mother; perhaps because I'm going through the same thing myself.