Summary and book reviews of Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott

Blue Shoe

by Anne Lamott

Blue Shoe
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2002, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2003, 304 pages

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Book Summary

An honest, irreverent and compelling story laced with self-deprecating humor, grace, and wit. As always, Anne Lamott creates characters with whom we can identify, as she explores the depths of human emotion.

Mattie Ryder is a marvelously funny, well-intentioned, religious, sarcastic, tender, angry, and broke recently divorced mother of two young children. Then she finds a small rubber blue shoe--the kind you might get from a gumball machine--and a few other trifles that were left years ago in her deceased father's car. They seem to hold the secrets to her messy upbringing, and as she and her brother follow these clues to uncover the mystery of their past, she begins to open her heart to her difficult, brittle mother and the father she thought she knew. And with that acceptance comes an opening up to the possibilities of romantic love.

In a disarming blend of everyday life and the sublime, of reverence and irreverence, and of humor and grace, Anne Lamott speaks directly to our most closely held concerns, bringing comfort to anyone--all of us--whose family life can feel overwhelming and uncontainable.

Lamott's formidable storytelling gifts have gained her a large and passionate following, and anybody who has experienced the delightful humor and the canny understanding of her previous work will be similarly charmed by Blue Shoe.

Chapter One

The world outside the window was in flames. The leaves on the pistachio trees shone fire-red and orange. Mattie studied the early-morning light. She was lying on the side of the bed where her husband should have been sleeping. Those trees were one reason she'd moved back into her parents' old home after leaving Nicholas, these trees and the sloping grassy hillside behind the house. Also, there was no mortgage: her parents had paid it off during the course of their marriage. She and her brother, Al, had grown up playing on the hill and in the buckeyes with their low, broad branches; her six-year-old, Harry, played there now, and her daughter, Ella, two, would also climb one day soon. The leaves of the delicate Japanese maple between Mattie's window and the wobbly fence were still green, but elsewhere in the garden were russets and butterscotch-oranges, other trees giddy with color, almost garish, like gypsy dresses. When she strained to listen, she could ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
At the beginning of Blue Shoe, Mattie Ryder thinks that life cannot get any more complicated. She is newly divorced and living with her two children in her childhood home, which is infested with rats and too many unanswered questions from her past. While the rat problem can be cured with an exterminator, coming to terms with her past will require Mattie to unravel her family secrets and learn some painful truths, especially about her father.

The clues to his life are contained in a plastic bag that was recovered from the glove box of his old car. Inside are a paint key from a can of blue paint and a tiny blue rubber shoe. As Mattie comes to know it, the story of her father's world shocks her, but it also explains her mother's ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Time Out New York

Anne Lamott's Blue Shoe offers proof that her clever approach to craft does indeed produce superior fiction.

The New Yorker

Anne Lamott's is a cause for celebration. [Her] real genius lies in capturing the ineffable, describing not perfect moments but imperfect ones . . . perfectly. She is nothing short of miraculous.

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

She can render almost any situation indecently, riotously funny, then turn it around on a dime and find the lesson in it . . . . She has written powerfully on some of life's most important subjects motherhood, work, faith. One can only wonder what she will write about next — and hope that she will do it very soon.

The Atlanta Constitution

Glorious. After reading Blue Shoe you feel as if you had sat on the kitchen floor and talked with the author late into the night about your lovers and God. That, in a nutshell, is the minor miracle of Lamott's writing.

Newsweek

In her novels and her nonfiction, Anne Lamott writes about subjects that begin with capital letters (Alcoholism, Motherhood, Jesus). But armed with self-effacing humor and ruthless honesty — call it a lowercase approach to life's Big Questions — Lamott converts potential op-ed boilerplate into enchantment.

Los Angeles Times Book Review

If you're stuck in an elevator when the Big One hits, you couldn't do much better than be stranded there with Anne Lamott.

O, the Oprah Magazine

A dead-on charming book.

Booklist - Carol Haggas

In a convoluted story filled with improbable plotlines and impossible circumstances, the chance discovery of a tiny blue plastic shoe, a child's prize from a gumball machine, leads to the unraveling of a long-buried family mystery and reveals the equally mysterious workings of faith, family, and friendship.

Publishers Weekly

..... brilliantly captures the dilemma of a divorced woman from the so-called sandwich generation in her latest, a funny, poignant and occasionally gut-wrenching novel

Kirkus Reviews

Lamott infuses this peripatetic story of a woman's struggles after a divorce with the same quirky brand of Christianity she explored in her wildly popular memoir, Traveling Mercies (1999).

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review. A breakout work. Funny, poignant and occasionally gut-wrenching.

Library Journal

Lamott's use of language allows us to see the smallest details from a fresh perspective, and her stories of motherhood and faith never fail to entertain and move us, all within the tightly wound ball of a good literary yarn.

Reader Reviews

Lily

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...   Read More

greg

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.

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