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I wanted to like Blue Shoe, because I have read two other books by Lamott, and admire her for her faith and her struggles in life. What I didn't like about Mattie in Blue Shoe was her inability to feel any empathy toward Pauline. She was able to put herself in others' shoes on several occasions, and modify her harsh impulses toward a kinder attitude, but that never happened with Pauline. Pauline's depressions and her fat ass seemed grounds to condemn her.
I also thought that Ella, Mattie's little girl, was just about the most appalling tot that has ever walked the pages of a novel, with the possible exception of Roy in John Updike's Rabbit at Rest. The way she kept playing with her navel, then nibbling her wrist, then biting her nails made me want to smack her. Possibly Lamott, as the creator of this novel, wanted the reader to react that way, and to realize, eventually, that Ella is a child of God like everyone else and deserving of love and compasssion.
Robert Funke, one of the Jesus seminar scholars, wrote an article on The Good Samaritan story, interpreting it as a story that suggests that help comes from the most unexpected places, and that God's mercy and goodness pops up from unusual sources when you least expect it. (He suggests that quite a few of the parables have that message.) I think the Blue Shoe is a talisman, a reminder of the unexpectedness of God, but because so many of the characters in Blue Shoe were unlikeable, the message that Lamott seems to be conveying was not as effective as it might have been.
too many characters; the plot was too confuleted with too many things going on. It became on ongoing soap opera; it truly is not one of my top five best noverls of the summer.