Review: Almost Everything

“Almost everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, scared, and yet designed for joy. Even (or especially) people who seem to have it more or less together are more like the rest of us than you would believe. I try not to compare my insides to their outsides, because this makes me much worse than I already am,” Anne Lamott

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott
189 pages
Genre: Non-fiction, essay
Published by Riverhead Books, 2018
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I will definitely come back to this one.
Reviewed by Indiana

Lamott offers a refreshing perspective on the state of things both personal and national. Written with equal amounts of heart and wit, she discusses how normal the desire for everything to stop is; to simply drive our cars off the road, to leap off of buildings. As Lamott puts it right from the start, “To me, this is very natural. It is hard here.”

Yet, while all the chaos and devastation is swirling around us (there’s a war and famine going on in Yemen, the United States government has been shut down for awhile now leaving many without pay and without important services . . . and that doesn’t even get into the personal, day to day chaos we might be in the midst of), Lamott points out that the good parts of life are still happening. It may feel like they’re not, but they are. We only need to seek and see them.

Through the lense of writing, alcoholism, unplugging, disease, religion, and a few other odds and ends, Lamott gives readers a reason to believe in and trust in the idea of hope and of maintaining it, no matter what is going on. Some of her essays and concepts are simple to read and follow: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you” and “Also, always carry a handful of Kisses in your backpack or purse to give away. People will like you more.”

Others are more challenging: “There is almost nothing outside you that will help in any kinds of lasting way, unless you are waiting for a donor organ. You can’t buy, achieve, or date serenity. Peace of mind is an inside job. . . The desperate drive to own and control in order to fill our psychic holes, relieve anxiety, fix difficulties, and cauterize old wounds takes root at an early age, and is doomed. It is like going to the hardware store for bread. It doesn’t sell bread. I can live on corn nuts and Paydays for only so long. Probably no longer than two weeks.”

Though it’s short, it’s the sort of book you want to linger through and savor, to pick up, read a section and then save the next chapter for the next day. Take it one chapter at a time because you might need the reminders and the challenges tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that . . .

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