Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Before she won deserved acclaim for her two recent nonfiction books, Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, Lamott wrote Rosie, an enchanting novel whose eponymous protagonist is a nine-year-old girl whose father dies suddenly and whose mother becomes an alcoholic. In revisiting the characters and idyllic Northern California setting of that book, Lamott again demonstrates her irrepressible, edgy humor and a new, deeper understanding of psychological nuance. Rosie Ferguson is now 13 and a rising star in the teenage tennis circuit, playing doubles with her best friend, Simone. Her mother, Elizabeth, who loves Rosie fiercely but who often can't cope, has married writer James. and a warm extended family of friends-Rae and Lank and the elderly Adderlys-cherish Rosie. But wrapped up in their own problems, the adults in her life unwittingly fail Rosie at a critical time in her adolescence. Remote and neurotic Elizabeth, takes to her bed in depression; Jack is absorbed in his new book; Charles Adderly is dying. Skinny, undeveloped Rosie has the familiar self-conscious adolescent insecurities and yearnings to be part of the in-crowd. Her tensions mount when Simone is seduced and becomes pregnant, with Rosie her sole confidante. Suddenly, the only constant person in Rosie's life is Luther, a menacing drifter who follows her from tournament to tournament. Thus, he is the only one who knows Rosie's most dreadful secret: that she has become a compulsive cheater on the tennis court. With a sureness of narrative control and a maturity of vision, Lamott underplays the drama here by maintaining a leisurely pace with numerous scenes of domestic minutiae. But her restraint pays off in credibility: she writes with integrity and tenderness of the failure of parental love to protect children, and of the resilience that helps children step over the threshold to maturity.Simultaneous audio; author tour. (Apr.)
Those who have read Lamott's Bird by Bird (LJ 8/94) will not be surprised to see that here her sentences are crafted with lapidary precision and humor. She is generous to her characters, more than balancing their fears and flaws with courage and virtues. Championship tennis player Rosie is 13, struggling with her ambition, impending womanhood, and a completely normal, complex relationship with her mother, Elizabeth. Simone, Rosie's doubles partner, has her own difficult issues to address. Though Elizabeth's second marriage to a kind and loving man is happy, neither she nor Rosie have completely worked through their grief at the sudden death of Rosie's father. Issues of character and sportsmanship, teenage sexuality and responsibility, and the importance of love and friendship are gently explored. Very little happens in terms of external events (although one pregnant teen might disagree), but internally, Rosie, her family, and Simone all change, pretty much for the better. Recommended.Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib, Bronxville, N.Y.
School Library Journal
YASome girls, like Rosie's friend and doubles partner on the Northern California tennis circuit, enter adolescence with young womanly grace and appeal; otherslike Rosiefind the onset of metamorphosing body and questionable social status fraught with a seemingly endless string of bad days. Lamott has a keen ear and reportorial skill for this sort of age-and-gender-driven angst. She embues Rosie's mother and adult friends with that same understanding. Although they have problems of their own, but they provide Rosie with admirable support that encourages her maturation rather than suffocating her with overwhelming concern. Interestingly, this novel features a great female tennis player who deals with her own cheating, a similar situation to that found in Marcia Byalick's YA novel, It's a Matter of Trust (Browndeer, 1995). Both well-written books speak to readers who have little interest in tennis while providing those who love the game with some lively scenes of the sport. Older girls will enjoy Lamott's newest offering, and may well wax envious at Rosie's family's understanding. That her 14-year-old friend is less lucky in the end, while seemingly having the better draw at the outset, lends a fairy-tale moral quality that embellishes the whole, rather than detracting from its power.Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Wry and elegiac...a bittersweet testament to the family, wherever we might find it, and to finding grace in the commonplace.
Eloquent, detailed, emotionally honest...Lamott deserves praise for telling it like it is.
Lamott's desctiptive powers are considerable and consistently evocative.
From the Publisher
"Pulses with an emotional generosity that is rare."- San Francisco Chronicle
"Eloquent, detailed, emotionally honest... Lamott deserves praise for telling it like it is."- People
"Crooked Little Heart... incapacitated me for several days. I could do little else but move from one reading post to another throughout my house and yard, and follow the continuing story of Rosie Ferguson in the summer of her 13th year.... The writing is threaded with precise imagery, tenderness, and high humor."- L.A. Weekly
"Lamott's descriptive talents are considerable and... consistently evocative. Crooked Little Heart is likely to win [her] the huge and appreciative audience her masterful fiction demands." - Boston Globe