Anne Lamott's New Novel: Faith, Family and Freaking Out

Amy Keyishian
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imperfect birds
Photo from Amazon

Anne Lamott, author of new novel, Imperfect Birds, is a wild collection of surprises: A woman of faith with progressive values; a recovering addict; an amazing writer.

Her journal of her first year as a single mom, Operating Instructions, is a must-read for moms who think they aren't ready (because nobody is, really, and that’s OK). I keep her guide to writing, Bird By Bird on my writing desk so I can grab it when I'm feeling hopeless and wordless. She writes about faith, too; check her out on The Colbert Report, discussing her third non-fiction book, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith.

She writes fiction, too, which is why I'm gushing about her here. She's written two novels  (Rosie and Crooked Little Heart) about a Northern California family struggling with the same issues she does – faith, addiction, and humor even despite total chaos. Imperfect Birds is her third, and it revisits the family as its teenage daughter struggles with drugs, sex, and dishonesty.

It's hard to read books like these. There are no bad guys, nobody to point fingers at and say "What an awful parent!" Everyone is well-meaning and just finding their own way, which is all any of us can do, and while we tell ourselves that love will fix everything, it's not always true. Like her other books, this can be an uncomfortable read, but it's also a really enjoyable one -- and a reminder, again, that we're never quite ready for most of the stuff that hits us in life, but that the only way to handle it all is to take things one at a time, bird by imperfect bird.

Have you read anything by Anne Lamott?

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