Rosie Ferguson, on the cusp of adolescence, is obsessed with tournament tennis. Her mother is a recovering alcoholic still grieving the death of her first husband; her stepfather, a struggling writer, is wrestling with his own demons. And now Rosie finds that her athletic gifts, once a source of triumph and escape, place her in peril, as a shadowy man seems to be developing an obsession of his own.
Brilliantly written, inhabited by superbly realised characters, funny and human and wonderfully suspenseful, Crooked Little Heart is Anne Lamott writing at the peak of her considerable powers.
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.