Rebecca Ruddy Ruddy itibaren Synyava, Ternopil's'ka oblast, Ukrayna
Ann met Lucy in college, but the women didn’t become friends until they were both accepted to a post-graduate writing program in Iowa. There they became room mates, and rather quickly soul mates. The friendship that they shared was not perfect, but the love they shared was real. Through good times and bad, success and failures, boyfriends and marriage – the relationship between these two women seemed central to their survival – their lives were permanently entwined. Lucy was a survivor of childhood cancer. Years of painful surgeries, chemotherapy, skin and bone grafts had left her physically marred. She was tiny in stature – childlike, and her face was horribly scarred. Much of her jaw was lost in surgery, and her teeth were lost to chemotherapy. She was unable to close her mouth, making eating and swallowing difficult and painful. Lucy, however, never complained about the pain. She had hope that surgery would “fix” her and make her beautiful. Through the years she was subjected to many more surgeries and to incredibly physical pain, but she never gave up hope. The book isn’t about that. While Patchett shares these events, she doesn’t describe them in detail. Instead she focuses on the bond of their friendship. Despite Lucy’s tiny stature, Patchett shows her as larger than life. She had spirit. She was optimistic. People gravitated to her – not out of curiosity about her deformity, but because her spirit was a magnet drawing others to her. There was so much to admire about Lucy - her strength, her talent, her courage. I wanted to know her, I wanted to experience her presence, I wanted to like her, but in the end I couldn’t. And in reading the book, this caused me guilt. I felt that I should have liked her. I certainly respected her, I respected her fortitude, her talent, her spirit; I just couldn’t “like” her, and that bothered me. The love between Ann and Lucy was real – the kind of love that ignores time and space and distance. Theirs was an unconditional love – something beautiful and at times so painful. Patchett’s writing is fabulous. I was drawn into this book from the first page and needed to read it – needed to “feel” it. She doesn’t talk about things or events – she talks about friendship and feelings and bonds that will never be broken. Actual events are secondary to the central “character” in the memoir – the friendship. Do I recommend this book? Obviously. I am not a writer – I do not have the words to properly honor this book – so all I can say is read it.