~ A Book Review: Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott ~

Posted: November 20, 2020 in "big picture" questions, book review, Book reviewing, books, creativity, Fiction, honesty, Humour, memories, morality, readers, Truth, words, Writing
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I’ve finished reading my twelfth novel for 2020, Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott. I can’t pass a thrift store or book fair without looking at the books, and Anne Lamott is one of those authors that the title doesn’t matter: you snatch it up, anyway. It wasn’t until I brought Plan B home I realized it was an autobiographical account written in part about her struggle with the Bush administration and an internal tug-of-war around her faith.

I’ll admit I felt hesitation. I wasn’t sure if it would get past one page. But after reading the first line I was in hook, line and sinker.

Who could resist a book that begins, ‘On my forty-ninth birthday I decided that all of life was hopeless, and I would eat myself to death.’

The book is mesmerizing, a searing, endearingly honest account of one woman’s struggles in life with herself, her child, her mother and with her Christianity. It is tough stuff to tackle and yet done with such disarming honesty you forget your preconceived concepts and tag along for the ride. Plan B follows on in the same vein as Lamott’s first memoir, Travelling Mercies. Plan B is a series of articles on everything from the Bush administration to single parenthood, to judgement of others and self, to grappling with her mother’s Alzheimer’s, and her son’s adolescence, to getting older and losing friends.

Some reviewers have called Plan B ‘a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in increasingly fraught times.’ This is spirituality presented by someone who never takes themselves too seriously. Because of the deceptive ease with which Lamott deftly handles the big subjects, we find ourselves drawn to contemplate our own stand in life. At the same time, we appreciate the lightheartedness, the rawness that reminds us even the top writers are human and we’re all in this together.

Anne Lamott, April 10, 1954, is an American novelist and non-fiction writer. She is also a progressive political activist, public speaker, and writing teacher. Born in San Francisco, she now lives in Marin County, California. Most of Lamott’s nonfiction works are autobiographical and of her books, they have made The Midnight Gospel, Raise Hell: The Life & Times Of Molly Ivins into TV shows and movies. Her father, Kenneth Lamott, was also a writer. Anne wrote her first published novel Hard Laughter for him after his diagnosis of brain cancer.

Freida Lee Mock researched Lamott’s life in the fascinating documentary Bird by Bird with Anne. After the documentary aired, Lamott became known as “the people’s author.” We feel there is a familiarity there.  Marked by self-deprecating humour, Lamott is unafraid to share the difficult issues like alcoholism, depression, solo motherhood and faith, or as one reviewer on Newsweek said, ‘call it a lowercase approach to life’s Big Questions–she converts potential op-ed boilerplate into enchantment.’

Lamott is nothing short of genius and she is a really interesting character to read about.

In Plan B, we recognize ourselves and our frailties. Lamott reflects our imperfections and the continuous life lessons on self acceptance. By revealing she has learned to love the jiggly parts of her legs and butt (“The Aunties” as she calls them), she allows us to see ourselves yet in such a light-hearted way that we laugh too. As a narrator of her own experience and ours, the essays in Plan B are eclectic and often unexpected, but always eye opening, warm and relatable.

Of her writing, Lamott has said, ‘When I am reading a book like this, I feel rich and profoundly relieved to be in the presence of someone who will share the truth with me, and throw the lights on a little, and I try to write these kinds of books. Books, for me, are medicine.’

Here is someone speaking my language. Plan B surprised me. I read it avidly to the end; I laughed and sat thinking deeply too. The essays cover the broad, raw spectrum of life and are given with nothing withheld. Lamott’s candour is as refreshing as taking a dip in a pool of fresh water. A novel I would put aside for a few years, then pick up and gladly read again.

My rating: Four and a half stars.

Talk to you later.

Keep creating!

Yvette Carol


I try to write the books I would love to come upon, that are honest, concerned with real lives, human hearts, spiritual transformation, families, secrets, wonder, craziness—and that can make me laugh. ~ Anne Lamott.


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  1. You write such great reviews. Hooked me. So many books, so little time. I applaud your dedication to reading and your skill at making me want to read every single book. Anne and I are from the same generation, (okay, I’m a tiny bit older) so I’m sure I’d appreciate her insights. Except mine are more like the entire extended family than simply “aunties”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Ha ha, you made me laugh, Joylene with the extended family! 🙂
      Thanks. I made an intention last New Year’s that I would get back into reading regularly, and I’m so glad I did. In the last month I have bought a whole stack more, too. Whoopee!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that you are brave tackling Ann Lamott to review. She certainly packs a lot in her work. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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