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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-01-09
- Reviewer: Staff
In Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year (1993), Lamott humorously and poignantly chronicled the sometimes painful, often joyful ups and downs of raising her son, Sam, as a single mother. Twenty years later, when Sam announces that he is going to become a father, Lamott is stunned, disappointed, overjoyed, and hopeful. Much as she did in her reflections on Sam’s first year, she and Sam chronicle her grandson Jax’s birth and all of the tremendous anxieties and life-altering events that it brings. Throughout this first year of being a grandmother, Lamott lives by two slogans: “ ‘Figure it out’ is not a good option,” and “Ask and allow—ask God, and allow grace in.” Through e-mails, interviews, and letters, Lamott and Sam sort out the difficulties and pleasures of raising a child, but Lamott devotes the bulk of the journal to sorting out her own feelings of love, anger, bewilderment, and happiness. She observes that her son and his son share deep powers of observation and focus, though as a baby Sam was more edgy in his watchfulness and Jax has a sturdy, calm quality. She learns that her job is simply to help keep Jax safe, support his explorations, and not have a complete collapse all the time from loving someone so deeply. Lamott’s insights into grandmotherhood are hardly profound or startling, but her canny ability to see the extraordinary in the ordinary with wit and irreverence makes for an entertaining ride through Jax’s first year. (Mar.)