Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
I saw a lot of buzz about this book, so I wanted to love it, but the truth is, I didn't. I didn't dislike it either. It was an easy read, perfect for a Sunday. There were many relatable moments, but it did not move me in any tremendous way. Sometimes, I laughed.
I also had not read My Name is Lucy Barton before, and maybe that left some part of the picture out. I am not sure. (Anyone who has read both, feel free to chime in here!)
Apologies, let me better introduce this: Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout is a quick book, across a few chapters, of the characters of the town set in Amagash, Illinois. It captures small town gossip well. Adultery, incest, revenge, closeted sexuality, the ones that stay, the ones that leave, the poorest ones. The poorest ones that leave guides some of the meaning behind "anything is possible." It is the American Dream. Yes, Strout illustrates, you can eat food out of a dumpster when you are young and grow up to sell air conditioners and own a nice brick house. Or you can be an actress. Or a touring author. Or runaway with your younger, Italian lover. And for every one of those stories, there is the sister, mother, brother, daughter left behind. But whether you stay or go, there is hurt, loneliness, sadness, disappointment, fatigue. There are also sweet little moments that surprise you and make you forget the rest, easily, in brief reprieve. Such is life.
It is not a new story, but it was nicely written. What is more interesting is that I seem to disagree with other book reviews more loudly on this one than I usually do. Others are applauding her ability to write human vulnerability and sadness. I guess she does. Maybe I am not in touch with my sensitivity today - as one character of hers says (the book is in the other room, I am too lazy, so paraphrased), "I hate sensitive people who are only sensitive about themselves."
Alas, it is the pursuit of happiness, of anything being possible, that keeps us moving through life. I learned that from yesterday's read as well. I don't not recommend this book. It was a fine story, and a fine cast, and it does remind us of something in ourselves, one way or another. It may even move you.