I was on the fence between three and four stars, but decided in the end that in the scheme of things, especially compared to almost everything else I've recently read, I probably did "really like" this book. Honestly, I'm so negative, any shred of enjoyment I get is probably the equivalent of a normal person's "loved it", so whatever. Four stars.
Honestly though, I was surprised how well I liked this book. I read it based on the recommendation of the New York Times
book review; admittedly, however, most of this was a morbid interest in their allusion to the author's own alcoholism. Knowing her only from cutesy crap like Bird by Bird
, I was shocked -- that
lame-o hippie had a drinking problem
?! I know, callous, I know. Also, even though it's kind of cheating on my whole read-books-for-adults thing, I figured I had a better chance of getting through anything with a protagonist who's a high school girl.
But you know what? This was actually a pretty good book. Lamott's observations of the entire community -- a petit bourgeois bohemian town in Marin County -- are well-captured and spot-on. Weirdly, all the dialogue she gives to teenagers rings extremely true (even more surprising given the adult characters, particularly the women, came off as unbelievable in the basic, I-couldn't-suspend-disbelief-and-think-people-really-speak-like-that way). I have this bad feeling that Lamott really researched how the teens speak, and that she and her adult friends indeed do talk only like hammy actors or like AA vets. (Yes, there is a lot of woo-woo spirituality and a lot
of sketchy therapy-talk here -- if you have a distaste for or a distrust of how any of the fill-in-the-blank Anonymous programs deal with people, this isn't the book for you.)
In any event, this was the first book I'd read in a while that I just devoured right from the beginning. (I mean, I read that Calamity Physics
one quickly at the end, but not at the start.) From literally the first paragraph I felt sucked in to this book. Hence, the four stars.
So have I gone over to the dark side? Um, no. I have a couple of YA books I've been carefully saving for the coming week, when I have to take a flight from San Diego to Atlanta by way of Milwaukee
. With mucho flying in my future, and so few YA series hanging on, I have to ration out what few books I still have!