I just finished Anne Lamott’s Imperfect Birds. The problem is now I will be suspicious of everything my children ask to do as I have an almost 17 year old who is about to start the summer before his senior year in high school. Do I think he is similar to Lamott’s Rosie? Absolutely not. Do I think he could possibly be? All teens could.
Lamott tells the story of a family who is looking at the promise of youth, a family that was once struck by tragedy and has rebuilt. Many families fall into this description which is part of the wonder of Lamott’s story telling. This could be any family. Just because the setting is in California, it does not mean that this could not be in New York or Nebraska. Just because the tragedy was the death of a spouse, a father, it does not mean the tragedy could not be divorce or debt.
Lamott weaves the story of teenage deception into an already damaged family. When I look around, this family could be many that I see, including my own. Maybe the deception is not drugs but we all have our share of deceptions. Any teen could be the one lying. The lies could be about alcohol, about drugs, about sex. On top of that, very few families these days are whole. About half have suffered divorce and have tried to mend themselves in different ways from that.
The part of the book that is redemptive is that the adults find hope. They find hope in each other and in a faith community while they profess to not believe. Elizabeth, Rosie’s mom, even finds hope in herself while taking part in a women’s sweat lodge. Feeling she was not strong enough, she amazed herself by staying for four rounds while her friend Rae crawled out during the first round.
I highly recommend Lamott’s Imperfect Birds to anyone. The story telling itself is wondrous, weaving all major fiction components from the characters to the setting to the plot.