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Crooked Little Heart (Rosie Ferguson #2)

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3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  3,967 ratings  ·  228 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
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ebook, 336 pages
Published November 16th 2011 by Anchor (first published 1997)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jess
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
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
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Julian
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
Jackie
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.
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Ari Joy
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
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
S. Nealon
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
Nancy
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
Debbie "DJ" Wilson


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
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Stephanie
May 18, 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
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Val
A beautiful portrayal of adolescence, and the obstacles that life throws our way throughout our early years.
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
Mom
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
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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
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Catha
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
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Rae
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
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Patty
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
Kathy McC
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
lkt
"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
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erin
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
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Knucklefish
"But easy's like, who cares? Easy's like, how much is easy going to get you?" writes the wise Anne Lamott. It's quite fitting since she never lets her characters or her readers off easy. She drags us through the emotional muck. But you know what? That's life. I'm glad she doesn't gloss over the facts. The key word is compassion. She loves Elizabeth and Rosie and James even as they completely screw up. I believe Lamott even says in Bird By Bird that a writer must love her characters but still all ...more
Laurel
I enjoyed this book more than Rosie, the first book in this series, due to the fact that in this book the characters are more richly drawn and complex. Having a daughter who is an athlete, I enjoyed reading about the complexity of athletics and how it pushes girls into situations where they have to dig deep into issues of morality and identity. I would have given this book a 3 star rating but I LOVED the last few lines, very poetic and close to my heart as a mother with a teenage daughter on the ...more
Wendy
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
Suzanne
So, I'm walking my dog in the park, and said dog (a border collie mix) finds a tennis ball. He almost always finds a tennis ball. But in this case it was a new-looking tennis ball, and instead of dots it had the name of this book and the author's name.

I was already familiar with the author because of her book on writing, Bird by Bird, but I had never read any of her fiction. But finding a tennis ball with this information on it, of course I had to read it. I was hoping for some entertainment and
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Cdelory
Spoilers below warning:

I knew about Anne Lamott long before I picked up this book, but never felt compelled to read her work. Now I do. I really enjoyed this study of a "garage sale family" as the thirteen year old put it. She really gets kids, and I'm looking forward to reading her book about her first year with her son. Awful things happen to the characters in this book, but they're already over and done with by the time the book starts (except for one death of an older friend), which makes it
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Katie
At first I let both Rosie and Elizabeth's anxiety fill me. I was just as sure as they were that something terrible was going to happen. But then, I let go and just enjoyed the beautiful relationships between the girls, their parents, the family friends turned into extended family. This book was raw with emotion and change and quirks. Another win for Anne Lamott.
Lisa
I love Anne Lamott, but had only read her non-fiction before. I love her non fiction so much, That I hesitated to read her fiction. I wish I had not waited so long. This book was fantastic, one of the best I have ever read - about adolescence, motherhood, death, grief, and tennis. Highly recommend.
Allison
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
David
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
erin duncan
I picked this up at a Half Price Books sale, figuring since I had heard good things about and purchased Lamott's book on writing, 'Bird by Bird,' I should read some of the author's own fiction before taking her advice! I warmed up to the book towards the end. At first Lamott's writing seemed overly self-conscious to me. Not enough subtlety. Too many emotions written out word for word. Yet, there were also moments of delicate tenderness and drama - I found my eyes skipping ahead a page to find ou ...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
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

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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”
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“[S]he believed that the Buddhists were right–that if you want, you will suffer; if you love, you will grieve. (68)” 70 likes
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