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Crooked Little Heart (Rosie Ferguson #2)

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  4,533 Ratings  ·  263 Reviews
With the same brilliant combination of humor and warmth that marked Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her two bestselling works of nonfiction, Anne Lamott now gives us an exuberant richly absorbing portrait of a family for whom the joys and sorrows of everyday life are magnified under the glare of the unexpected.

The Fergusons make their home in a small California to
ebook, 336 pages
Published November 16th 2011 by Anchor (first published 1997)
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Mar 19, 2007 Jess rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Anne Lamott should have taken the advice offered her in her previously published 'Bird by Bird' and given up on writing novels before she started.
Beth Peninger
Jan 25, 2011 Beth Peninger rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I actually can't say I have read this book. I have read 36 pages and I cannot stand to read one more word. I feel horrible about it but I can't do it. I adore Anne Lamott and her non-fiction but I can't stand her fiction. Truthfully I don't think I should even be giving the book 1 star since I only got 36 pages in and couldn't stand it.
What did I hate? The overuse of descriptive words - I felt like I was reading the Thesarus that had some words written in between the descriptives. The lack of p
Jan 28, 2012 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked discovering that the title originated from a line in a poem by W.H. Auden, which the author quoted on p. 181

O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

"Expectations are resentments waiting to happen" (185).
I just found this quote in a journal from Jan 25, 1998 - My ex-husband's 48th Birthday.
Nov 20, 2007 Julian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regular-fiction
This book is the sequel to Rosie, and they are two of my mom's favorite novels of all time, so when I read them I couldn't help looking for her in them. I found her, but I also found that I really loved Crooked Little Heart far more than Rosie. Rosie, especially the ending, didn't really push my thinking. Crooked Little Heart did. I'm glad I read it now, since starting roller derby - so much of the book focuses on a competitive sport (Tennis, my mom's favorite) as a metaphor, and it really helpe ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Mom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another coming-of-age story -- this time of a 13 year old tennis player named Rosie. Not much to say about this book. As always, Anne Lamott's writing is beautiful, with many many passages that beg to be reread and copied out. She writes, too, with the humor and sensitivity that are hallmarks of her writing.

BUT, the characters are stereotypes, not anyone you'd care about, except for the two girls, Rosie and Symone. Rosie's mother, Elizabeth, is absurdly immature and angst-ridden; I just wanted t
Joan Curtis
Okay, I should have listened to the reviews. I trusted after reading Bird by Bird that Anne Lamott would write wonderful fiction. Little did I know that her fiction would drag and drag. I couldn't wait to finish this book. If you like tennis (which I do), you'll enjoy the description of play. Otherwise, there is NO plot. What happened in the hundreds of pages? Nothing. And there were absolutely no surprises. My only surprise was that all the sad characters did not kill themselves. Each went over ...more
Ari Joy
Jul 22, 2013 Ari Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-overs
Everything about this lush book reminds you of being loved. Somehow the relationships between characters aren't just evocative and contemplative, making you wonder how love works and if the redemption of small, ordinary things by love is what makes the world go 'round... they're literally a transformative journey that you take with the characters. I've never wanted a teenager daughter but Anne makes me feel like I have one; I've never (really never) wanted a smart but slightly self-absorbed and ...more
Kim Lanza
Anne Lamott is one of my favorite authors. This is the first novel I read by her and was a bit disappointed.

This story is about a 13-year old girl who plays tennis and her mother who struggles with depression and is a recovered alcoholic. The mother is remarried but still grieving for her first husband who dies in a car accident. There are some interesting minor characters too.

Maybe it was because there was too much 'tennis talk' for my liking. I can't even keep score in tennis so reading pages
In Crooked Little Heart, Lamott writes something more to poetry-prose or an extended character sketch than a novel. She is unarguably an exceptional writer, with a talent for including just the right unexpected, seemingly inconsequential detail that ultimately illuminates the qualities of a character; however, characters alone don't make a novel, and although there are the story arcs of Rosie's cheating, her friend's pregnancy, and her grieving mother, they all seem to be more sub-plots than dri ...more
Nov 12, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were things I liked about this one, but also a lot I didn't care for. I didn't like it anywhere near as much as "Rosie," though it didn't end up being a saccharine al-anon tract at the end like "Imperfect Birds." I'm sure some people dig some of the stuff that bothered me, but I just didn't dig it. It felt overly sentimental, maudlin even at times. Besides the fact that it sometimes became muddled whether Rosie or Elizabeth was thinking, I think my biggest problem was that Rosie sometimes ...more
Feb 01, 2009 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, family
Although the story held my attention, I felt the writing at times was self conscious as though she was searching for the perfect simile or metaphor instead of focusing on just telling the story. She does do a good job of developing character. I really felt like I knew these people, although at times they seemed less than real. It was hard to imagine a 13 year old girl sitting on her mother’s lap and calling her mommy. I liked Elizabeth’s tolerance and willingness to let Rosie be her own person ...more
S. Nealon
May 02, 2012 S. Nealon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite my cynicism, I found myself falling for Lamott's portrayal of all the gooey supportive love and understanding in the unconventional relationships between teenage daughter Rosie, her recovering alcoholic, widowed mother Elizabeth, and the myriad satellite stand-in parental figures for Rosie. I was so beguiled by the atmosphere Lamott creates through her beautiful language, that I kept yearning to pick up the book again simply to be back in the haunting world she had created. I was certain ...more
Apr 24, 2009 Stephanie added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: men down on their luck & girls who were extra awkward at 13
Recommended to Stephanie by: snatched it up at a writer's group swap
Didn't want it to end.

A book about a thirteen year old girl reminds you of being 13.
A book this accurate about a thirteen year old girl written by the mother of a boy in real life is remarkable.

I cannot imagine having this good a relationship with my mother or a stranger who comes to my games (in my case it would have been recitals) at 13. Although the girl's mother has flaws, she's a lot better than the mother I had. I think Anne created the mother she wanted to have in this character, at least
Debbie "DJ"

I really like Anne Lamott, but this book was just okay. I thought the story line was weak, and the characters just didn't spring to life for me. I loved her book "Rosie", but this just fell a little short. It's not a bad read, as there are lots of important questions being asked here. How do we deal with the death of loved ones, does making mistakes make us a mistake? It also explored that the real truth of people cannot be mistaken for their outer appearances. It is very well written, and as t
Dec 19, 2014 Pegggggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Great book, quite a story and really gets into the inner thoughts, in accurate detail. This one will stick with me for a long time. I read the part about the kitchen light out loud the other night, it was such an accurate description.
A beautiful portrayal of adolescence, and the obstacles that life throws our way throughout our early years.
Jun 08, 2012 Patty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readin12
Anne takes us through the summer of Rosie Ferguson (age 13) and Elizabeth, her mom. You met them in a previous book when Rosie was 4 but that doesn't really matter. Rosie and her friends are "blooming like spring, budding, lithe, agile as cats.They wore tiny dresses and skirts so short that their frilly satin tennins bloomers showed....They were brown as berries, with feet as white as the moon." Rosie and her partner, Simone were good, ranked number one in the girls fourteen and under doubles in ...more
May 29, 2007 lkt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Crying withheld feels sometimes like dying..."

I really loved this book, mostly because I could empathize with Rosie's middle school angst and insecurites. But I also admire (and envy) Lamott's writing in general - she creates beautiful phrases such as "it was so hot that the only things moving outside were the crickets and the anorexics" and "the sun smelled warm, like laundry in the dryer, like melting yellow crayons." Her writing startles me sometimes, so I have to stop and reread. I would
Lora Shouse
Jul 01, 2016 Lora Shouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nothing much actually happens in this story. Just the everyday life of a particular family through the spring, summer, and fall of one year. And everything happens.

Rosie Ferguson is having a tough year the summer she is thirteen. She and her tennis partner, Simone, are highly rated in their local tournament circuit. They begin well. But things are changing. Simone has started to draw interest from boys, while Rosie has begun to feel unattractive and depressed. Also, there is this strange older m
Kari Yergin
"Today she looked in the mirror and could see the worried beauty of both the girl she had been and the marvelous crone-- God willing-- she would become one day."

"Charles's amazing agile mind was now a moth trapped in a jar, and every time it tried something vigorous, more powder fell off."

She had cheated. She wasn't a cheater.

"She went directly to James's office to tell him how great it had been to be out in the sun, trying to be of help. She had excused herself for interrupting and begun to te
Candace Marie
Aug 05, 2015 Candace Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first piece of Anne Lamott fiction I picked up and I wasn't disappointed. After reading "Bird By Bird", I knew she'd be whimsical and creative with her descriptions of emotions and life. I found myself riveted by the stories of Rosie, Elizabeth, James, Rae, Lank, and Simone as each character popped with dysfunctional humor.
I was able to connect with this story on a personal level, though there are moments I felt as though I was either missing a part of the story or it was not entire
Jul 24, 2011 Rae rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have great affection for Anne Lamott because of 'Bird by Bird' and 'Operating Instructions', and because of that affection, I will read anything she writes. Period.
However, a writing pal/mentor of mine once said that if something doesn't directly propel the plot or significance forward, take it out. No setting for setting's sake, it needs to have meaning. While I'm not sure if I wholeheartedly agree with this- I do love a descriptive moment- I do think it's good advice, especially for me. And
Evanston Public  Library
In the summer of her 13th year, Rosie Ferguson is occupied and preoccupied with tennis. She's a junior ranked player and is shuttled around along with her best friend and doubles partner, Simone, to all the tournaments in the San Francisco area. Both girls are caught in that moment at the end of childhood where hints of the women they are to become begin to show--physically, mentally, and emotionally. When Rosie was four, her dad was killed in a car accident. Elizabeth, Rosie's mom, spent a few ...more
Mary Anne
Mar 27, 2015 Mary Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Oh, we're all crazy, honey. But most of us don't have your style."

I read this book right after finishing Rosie, and both were actually kind of hard to get. (I'm so used to easily getting ebooks or library books.) I'm not sure the choice of reading them back-to-back was a great idea, because this book has a shift in tone and writing that I found a bit jarring at first. This is to say that Crooked Little Heart has its own pace with the same familiar writing and feeling, and I really like it. I ha
Apr 24, 2008 Catha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first fiction book to read by Lamott. I recently read her memoir-esque book Traveling Mercies, and really did like it. So I thought I would try out one of her novels.

As far as story goes, I thought Crooked Little Heart was pretty boring. Lots of details to an un-interesting plot.

However, as far as character development goes, Lamott did an excellent job. I really got into the characters and their little nuances.

I think the one thing that I really grabbed hold of in this book is the
Jul 13, 2007 erin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last night, as I was sleeping
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
Here inside my heart.
and the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
From my old failures. -Antonio Machada (from Times Alone)

The excerpt above is in the preface of Crooked Little Heart. I enjoyed the first Anne Lamott I picked up, but the second, for whatever reason, I didn't finish. I haven't picked one up since. Then, as I was finishing my last exam and requesting piles of books from my stored lists in my libr
Bob Walenski
Nov 13, 2016 Bob Walenski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Anne Lamott and was lucky to pick up this autographed copy at a library sale. It's been on my shelf too long....time to dig in.
WOW! What an amazing book, yet SO typical of Anne Lamott. Her language use is rich and varied. Her synonyms and similes are always spot on and thought provoking. Nobody describes her characters' feelings and inner thoughts more effectively. Her stories are true to life and so real they jump out at you and grab your attention.
The plot of the story isn't the key. It
Jessica Washak
Apr 14, 2015 Jessica Washak rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Like many others, I picked up this book because I was familiar with Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life and really enjoyed it. Lamott very clearly possesses a talent for rich descriptions and charming humor, that I will say that for her.

With Crooked Little Heart, however, I must confess that I wasn't able to get past the first 50 pages. I am what I like to refer to as a stubborn reader. Usually, I see the books I pick up through. This one, I just couldn't do. Stylistically, Lamo
Kathy McC
Jul 02, 2008 Kathy McC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read most of LaMott's non-fiction writings and have enjoyed all of them. This novel is no exception. I truly enjoy her writing style and her sentences are works of art. The plot develops slowly so their is ample time to get to know the characters before you are thrown into the throes of conflict. There is time to become involved their lives and share the same problems and issues that are part of yours. By the end of the book all the plots are completed, and closure is created. There are ...more
May 20, 2010 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a rare book in that it didn't have much of a plot, yet I loved it. I enjoyed it much more than its sequel--I seem to be reading the trilogy in reverse order. Another oddity is that my single favorite part of this book were the fights. "From Bosnia to Paris in 24 hours" muses Elizabeth after reconciling with her husband. I've always preferred Lamott's nonfiction to her fiction, and it's her honesty that makes it great. She says out loud things I barely let myself think. That's how it felt ...more
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Anne Lamott is an author of several novels and works of non-fiction. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, her non-fiction works are largely autobiographical, with strong doses of self-deprecating humor and covering such subjects as alcoholism, single motherhood, and Christianity. She appeals to her fans because of her sense of humor, her deeply felt insights, and her outspoken views on topics such ...more
More about Anne Lamott...

Other Books in the Series

Rosie Ferguson (3 books)
  • Rosie
  • Imperfect Birds

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“I've given guys blow jobs just because I've run out of things to talk about.'
Oh, Rae. Who hasn't”
“[S]he believed that the Buddhists were right–that if you want, you will suffer; if you love, you will grieve. (68)” 79 likes
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