Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Anything is Possible

Title:  Anything is Possible
Author:  Elizabeth Strout
Publication Information:  Random House. 2017. 272 pages.
ISBN:  0812989406 / 978-0812989403

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Tommy Nuptial had once owned a dairy farm, which he'd inherited from his father, and which was about two miles from the town of Amgash, Illinois."

Favorite Quote:  "IT was beyond his understanding, but it was all right. And it had been."

Elizabeth Strout's books and I have been a hit or miss combination. I loved Olive Kitteridge when I read it years ago. The Burgess Boys was not a book for me. Then came My Name is Lucy Barton, which I loved. That leads me to this book, which is supposed to be a companion / follow on to My Name is Lucy Barton. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, I find that Anything is Possible is not the book for me.

My Name is Lucy Barton is fiction that reads like a biography. Through a period of illness and conversations with her mother, the reader gets a picture of Lucy Barton's life - both present and the past in Amgash, Illinois that she fled. Anything is Possible picks on the other side of the story if you will. It brings the reader to Amgash and to Lucy's family and to many of the people whom Lucy Barton remembers and who remember her. Unfortunately, I don't remember the details of My Name is Lucy Barton. One because I read it a year and a half ago. Second because that story includes other people but is all about Lucy and how they touch her life. This book makes frequent references to Lucy such that I feel that I need to have read that book recently or even read them side by side to see both sides of the story. This feeling becomes stronger as the book goes on because I enjoyed My Name is Lucy Barton. I don't enjoy this one and wonder if that link is the missing piece

Anything is Possible covers a wide cast of characters; chapters wind back and forth between their stories. The common thread becomes Lucy Barton except that she is largely absent in the book. I find myself getting lost among the characters and have trouble separating what details go with which story. More than that, I really don't care for any of the characters enough to try and follow his or her story.

Even among the stories, I cannot find one to anchor the book or even to enjoy on this own. The stories include rather unpleasant details dealing with rather unsavory topics. Serious topics. Relevant even perhaps. However, for the most part, I just want to step away from the details which seem to focus on the grotesque. There seems to be no joy or hope in these stories or in this entire town.

The title of the book still puzzles me. Before reading the book, the words "Anything is Possible" symbolize hope and possibility. After reading the book, my takeaway is that many depressing and odd and disturbing are possible in this town. My parting thought becomes that if this is the life of Amgash, Illinois then I am not surprised that Lucy Barton fled the town.

I am truly disappointed because I loved My Name if Lucy Barton. The emotion and the connection of that book is lacking in this one. However, perhaps, when the next Elizabeth Strout's books comes out, I will still give it a try for it may be a gem.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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