Crooked Little Heart: A Novel

Crooked Little Heart: A Novel

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by Anne Lamott

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With the same brilliant combination of humor and warmth that marked Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her two bestselling works of nonfiction, Anne Lamott now gives us an exuberant richly absorbing portrait of a family for whom the joys and sorrows of everyday life are magnified under the glare of the unexpected.

The Fergusons make their


With the same brilliant combination of humor and warmth that marked Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her two bestselling works of nonfiction, Anne Lamott now gives us an exuberant richly absorbing portrait of a family for whom the joys and sorrows of everyday life are magnified under the glare of the unexpected.

The Fergusons make their home in a small California town where life is supposed to resemble paradise, but for thirteen-year-old Rosie (last seen in Lamott's beloved novel Rosie), reality is a bit harsher.  Her mother, a recovering alcoholic, is still beset by grief over the early death of her first husband.  Rosie's stepfather is a struggling writer plagued by doubts and hilarious paranoia. And Rosie, aching in the bloom of young womanhood and obsessed with tournament tennis, finds that her athletic gifts, initially a source of triumph, now place her in peril, as a shadowy man who stalks her from the bleachers seems to be developing an obsession of his own.

Written with enormous emotional honesty, inhabited by superbly realized characters, riotously funny and wonderfully suspenseful, Crooked Little Heart is Anne Lamott writing at the height of her considerable powers.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Library Journal
Tennis, anyone? The descriptions of matches here are so detailed that best-selling author Lamott (Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, LJ 3/15/93; Bird by Bird, Audio Reviews, LJ 9/1/96) often seems to be writing another nonfiction book. But there is an abundance of plot as well. Thirteen-year-old Rosie is an up-and-coming tennis pro who learns to win matches by cheating; her father's dead, her mother's a recovered alcoholic, her best friend and doubles partner is pregnant. But the plot thickens: there's a sexually threatening stranger who attends all her matches, her mother's second-marriage is problematic, an old friend is dying, another old friend is in a bad relationship, and more. The point of view shifts so often that listeners who come to this tape without having read the printed version will have trouble keeping track of who's who, and Kate Burton's peppy and animated reading is of little help. Best for libraries where there's a lot of interest in Lamott's other works.Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York
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
Chicago Tribune
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.
Boston Globe
Lamott's desctiptive powers are considerable and consistently evocative.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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2 MB

Meet the Author

Anne Lamott is the author of four previous novels, as well as Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird.  She lives in Northern California with her son, Sam.

From the Hardcover edition.

Brief Biography

Fairfax, California
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
San Francisco, California
Attended Goucher College in Maryland before dropping out to write

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Crooked Little Heart 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have recently come to Anne Lamott, and in reading 'Crooked Little Heart,' became completely engrossed in and in love with her characters. Yes, they are 'messy' but then life is messy. Her characters are real, fully developed, and I could totally relate to how and why they behaved as they did. The 'From the Publisher' and 'Publisher's Review' descriptions of the book are right on. The two young readers who reviewed the book lacked the maturity to understand what drove the book. Also the other reviewers seemed to miss what an important, totally non-sexual part Luthor played in the coming of age of Rosie. All the characters in this 'yard sale' family were important in the growth of each other. I loved the book.
TLeopard More than 1 year ago
This was a excellently written book with memorable characters. I've loved everything I've ever read from Anne Lamott.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently finished reading 'Crooked Little Heart' by Anne Lamott. This is the second book I have read by Ms. Lamott, the first being 'Rosie,' which is a great prequel and describes Rosie's life as a younger girl. 'Crooked Little Heart' uses great sensory details in describing the emotions of a young teenage girl. You are able to really get to understand the characters' feelings and personalities, making the book one that you can truly get engrossed in. Anne Lamott has a different style than many other fiction writers, and it is apparent from the very beginning of her novel. I loved this book and hope you will read it and enjoy it too. I particulary recommend it to people who are fans and/or players of tennis, as the book does have much of the action centered around tournament tennis. I can't wait to read more from Anne Lamott!
JustMyTwoCents More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this story because the thoughts of the various characters seemed very real to me--particularly the guilty feelings that so many of the characters seemed to have with regard to their thoughts and behaviors. It was also realistic in the way that someone might do something wrong once, but it doesn't automatically mean a pattern is established--such as when Rosie injures herself for attention. Or how she came  understand that while she did some wrong things when playing tennis, it did not mean that she needed to see herself as always bad as a result of it. My only criticism of the story is that I didn't understand how the family could keep a roof over their head and eat, let alone finance Rosie's expensive sport on so little income. It made no sense to me. I will look for more books by this author. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a disappointment and I usually like Anne Lamott. Lamott doesn't fill out her characters enough to explain their disappointments, depression, fears etc. They're all kind of wierd in a not so good way. The main character, an adolescent tennis star, is disjointed and unlikeable. A lot of Lamott's metaphors are so stupid, I had to stop and reread to see if she really wrote what I read. She writes great about tennis but I was really disappointed.
iluvtarney More than 1 year ago
Thirteen year old Rosie Ferguson is obsessed with tennis. Rosie doesn't have many people to talk to. Her father died when she was just a little girl, her mother is a recovering alcoholic, and her step dad is a struggling writer. Not to mention a mysterious man who watches all of her tournaments, and her pregnant best friend. Rosie must learn how to deal with the stress of tennis on her own, what she chooses to do though in the end, is unthinkable. Something that I did not like about the book was that I found myself bored when the author talked about the mother and not Rosie, but perhaps that's because I've not yet come across the hardships that Rosie's Mother is going through. I loved the writing style, it was intelligent and detailed. This book very nicely conveys the problems that both teenage girls and athletes go through, like the pressure to be perfect. It shows how some girls might deal with it. This book related to me because I am also an athlete, so I know what it's like to feel like one has to never make any mistakes so, I could easily relate to a lot of what Rosie was going through. October 11th 2011 Clara Duman
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Crooked little heart was a okay book, i found it interesting that she goes through some of the same things as i do, but i wish the sport she was in was softball, not tennis.