Picks and Pans Review: Crooked Little Heart
The author of 1993's Operating Instructions, an absorbing account of her son's first year of life, Lamott revisits one of her fictional offspring, Rosie's Rosie Ferguson, in the throes of adolescence. Rosie lives in a pleasant California town with her loving parents—Elizabeth, a recovering alcoholic still mourning the death of her first husband, and stepfather James, an often-preoccupied writer. But Rosie is 13 and tormented by her so-called life. She's a scrawny outsider at school, while her best friend, Simone, is all budding breasts and boy toy. Rosie is a gifted tennis player, but the pressure of amateur tournaments—and a shadowy man stalking her from the bleachers—are getting to her, and her conduct becomes unsportsmanlike.
Lamott's portrait of Rosie is eloquent, detailed, emotionally honest; she pays equal attention to Elizabeth, who is going through a painful passage of her own. In a sense, nothing much happens in Heart, yet everything does. But that's life, and Lamott deserves praise for telling it like it is. (Pantheon, $24)