Monday, November 2, 2009

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett

Published in 2004 this memoir has smacked against my windshield a few times, but it seemed that in every instance I felt an urgency to read it, it was checked out. It splattered once again this past week while I was on my quest for something special to read and this time, it was on the shelf.
Truth and Beauty entranced me from the first paragraph. Ann Patchett has a very clear, honest, shining voice and the story of her intense friendship with fellow writer Lucy Grealy is a fierce beacon to the reader's soul. Lucy Grealy was a poet who suffered from cancer as a child and lost the lower half of her jaw. She and Patchett meet in college and become roommates when they both attend grad school in Iowa. Lucy is an extraordinary person, larger than life and spontaneously vibrant. Her severe anxiety about her facial abnormality does not stop her from pursuing her goal of becoming a writer, yet she suffers from unbearable depression and loneliness throughout her life that debilitates her progress. I think anyone who has ever felt unattractive, lonely, and unloveable will understand Lucy's intense feelings of inadequacy, but most of us will also identify with Patchett, the long-suffering, loyal stalwart who can do nothing to heal her friend's ruptured self-worth. At the start of the book, I felt more in tune with Lucy but as it neared its end and Lucy tumbled into mental illness and drug abuse, I felt myself align with Ann. Patchett neatly times the reader's response to Lucy; I started to become exasperated with Lucy at exactly the point in the book when Ann nearly ends their friendship. I admired Ann's faithfulness throughout. I've never been called upon to serve a friend the way she served Lucy. She is an amazing example of true friendship. I enjoyed this beautifully tragic true tale.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds heartbreaking. I want to cry just reading your review! I would like to read it if I can get a hold of it.