Picks and Pans Review: Blue Shoe
by Anne Lamott
In the world of Blue Shoe, everything is almost too good to be true. Each day holds promise. Everyone, 7-year-olds and adulterous ex-husbands included, has inspired thoughts and speaks poetically. And somewhere up above a benign Deity makes sure we all come out okay. Ordinarily, those ingredients would add up to a can't-miss recipe for sentimental mush. Instead, with light wit and sharp eye, Lamott creates a welcome refuge.
Her protagonist, Mattie Ryder, is a divorced mother of two who stumbles on some of her long-deceased father's belongings (including the mysterious tiny blue sneaker of the title). These trinkets prompt Ryder and her brother to journey into their family's past, while trying to keep afloat in their complicated present. Mattie's still sleeping with her philandering (and remarried) ex-husband. Plus, she's juggling a new flame, her kids, a not-so-innocent crush on her married handyman (who's philandering now?), a terminally flatulent dog and a rapidly deteriorating mother, a woman who is, as Mattie observes, "antler-thin, and clearly not all there."
This pleasantly overpopulated journey is narrated in short scenes—filled with lively descriptions—each ending with a sometimes poignant, often wry punch line. The novel's one frustration is that it takes Mattie and her brother longer to figure out their family mysteries than it will most readers, but Lamott has a point here. In our own lives, perhaps we see only the truths we allow ourselves to see. (Riverhead, $24.95)
Bottom Line: The Shoe fits
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