Here’s one more Elizabeth Strout book. This is not exactly a sequel, but it builds upon the events and actors in My Name Is Lucy Barton. Anything Is Possible impressed me, because it has the same people in it, but is a completely different type of book than the book about Lucy. Here, you hear about all the folks she encountered in her book and insisted she didn’t know anything about or understand.
And it quickly becomes clear that Lucy was right. Each of the people you learned a few facts about from Lucy or her mother before has a complex and interesting story to tell, with their own deep regrets, shame, and accomplishments. I was surprised over and over at how the people I encountered in the first book changed as they aged and had experiences.
There’s a theme of people surviving the loss of their mothers, many by having their mother just up and leave, others by having them pass away young. That made me empathize a lot, since I always felt like my mother was never really all there the whole time I knew her, even though I loved her an all her flaws. The same seemed to be true of almost everyone in Anything Is Possible, too. It warmed my heart to see estranged siblings realize their love for each other and estranged children realizing they love their parents (even the ones who were unacceptably eccentric, bordering on abusive). That gives me hope for my own situations, and that’s a thing that makes me really careful.
Strout is right, anything IS possible. You also can’t predict what’s going to happen with people. Even the most broken of us can rise above early experiences, but it’s not guaranteed, either. Strout did a masterful job of showing us that “stuff happens” to everyone, but we will all learn, grow, and remain able to love.
I hope you get a chance to read both of these books, and read them in close succession. You’ll experience complex emotions, but in the end, you’ll be realistically optimistic about humans and their resiliency.