As a follow-up to her bestseller Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott brings us SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, A Journal of My Son’s First Son. With her usual wit and wisdom, Annie, as she calls herself, takes us through the first year of her grandson Jax’s life, beginning with the shocking news that her nineteen-year-old son Sam was unexpectedly going to become a father, and culminating with Jax’s first steps and a birthday party. Through personal journal entries, letters, emails, and phone conversations with Sam and the baby’s mother Amy, Anne invites us into their lives and we witness the upheaval, joy, and jumbled up emotions a new baby can bring into the lives of a family. Anne is caught off guard by the intense love she has for her grandson. She writes;
The beauty of the curve of his head – how it rests in the crook of my elbow – almost makes me want to flog myself, out of a desperate, unbearable love. All grandparents I’ve mentioned this to have felt this. He’s a Fibonacci spiral, like a nautilus shell – one of those patterns in mathematical expression with a twisting eternal perfection.
Through the story, we see how Sam and Amy struggle with parenthood. Amy is torn between family in Chicago and her life in San Francisco with Sam and Jax. Sam struggles to continue his education at art school, support his family, and be a good father. While Sam and Amy learn their roles as parents, Anne must learn how to be a grandmother, a surprisingly difficult and incredibly rewarding task. We see how she battles her nature to control everything and how she struggles to allow Sam and Amy to learn and live their own lives. She’s a self-admitted obsessive worrier and a chronic napper. She fiercely loves her family. Especially poignant are the scenes where Anne expresses her love for her friends, her Uncle Millard, who is dying from cancer, and of course Sam, Amy, and Jax. In the end, as always, love conquers all.
One of my favorite parts of the book, (which actually has the least to do with her being a grandparent) is her beautifully detailed descriptions of her trip to India. Whether in a boat floating in the early morning mist on the Ganges, browsing a colorful marketplace, or being attacked by beggars, Anne brings the intense smells, sights and sounds, be they breathtaking or heart breaking, of the Indian culture to life.
Highly recommended. Parents and grandparents especially will connect with Lamott’s experiences. Releases March 20, 2012.