Shari's Reviews > Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son

Some Assembly Required by Anne Lamott
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Apr 06, 12

Read from March 29 to April 06, 2012

I finished this a week ago, but I've struggled with how to rate it. At some point, I let myself get too distracted by the less-than-glowing reviews, and I even found myself thinking, okay, this will probably be a three-star book. Loving Anne Lamott's voice, but it's no Operating Instructions.

Except that's the thing. It's not Operating Instructions. And even though it's sort of marketed to be all Operating Instructions v. 2.0, it's a completely different kind of book -- and well it should be, since Lamott is not a new mother, writing about her own child. I can see how people who fell in love with her chronicle of her son's first year would maybe be disappointed in this, but I also think it would have fallen flat if she'd tried to simply replicate that book. This is a book about becoming a grandmother, but it is also about a lot of other things -- navigating tricky emotional landscapes, struggling with faith, and figuring out what this crazy ride we're on is all about. Lots of it is, of course, reminiscent of Operating Instructions -- that's what people want! -- but much of it is also evocative of Traveling Mercies. In the end, it's really its very own book, and in a lot of ways it's more richly layered than her journal of her first year of motherhood, more broad in scope.

And I will totally admit this right now: I've loved Lamott's writing for years, ever since I discovered Bird by Bird at the age of nineteen, but now I totally lack the ability to even be objective. I went to listen to her speak shortly before this book was released, and I don't think I've ever just truly loved being in the presence of an author I love and admire. She was so fantastic, so real and utterly as I imagined her but even better, and I think I was still hearing some of her real voice in my head as I read this.

I'm not giving it five stars right now because I couldn't find myself totally loving it wholeheartedly for the first time the way I fell into loving Operating Instructions and Traveling Mercies; my love for those books borders on desperate. But once I realized it's not supposed to simply be an updated Operating Instructions I knew I could love this one, too. I did. I do. And I know I'll read it again (so definitely no regrets about buying this in hardcover. My copy of Operating Instructions is just absolutely trashed.)
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Julie Yes, that's it. Exactly. :)


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