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Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My…
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Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Anne Lamott, Sam Lamott

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2233452,123 (3.49)6
TemeculaMomma's review
I am so surprised that I did not enjoy this book as much as I had anticipated. After reading the book's description, I was sure that I would connect with the author and her account of becoming a young grandmother, but alas, that was not the case. Instead, Ms. Lamott's journal-style memoir seemed to focus more on secondary details and glaze over the bigger picture. I struggled to connect with any of the story's characters; Anne, Sam, or Amy. I suppose I just expected to read more of her own journey towards accepting and embracing the situation and less about new-agey meditation rooms. With that being said, there were a few gems hidden throughout that made me chuckle, such as Ms. Lamott's internal battles against her own tendency to try and fix everything. Now that I can relate to.

Please note that I received a complementary copy of this book from Shelf Awareness which has not influenced my review. Thank you. ( )
  TemeculaMomma | Apr 5, 2012 |
All member reviews
Showing 1-25 of 37 (next | show all)
I could not finish this book. I didn't find the book amusing (although it tried to be.) Also there was no interesting plot. It was just young unmarried parents raising a child from a grandmother's point of view. ( )
  KamGeb | Mar 30, 2014 |
Anne Lamott always moves me and makes me look around at others in the world with love and wonder, and this book is no exception. I'm going to be a first-time grandmother in October, so it had special meaning for me -- especially the bits where she's trying to figure out how to be a grandmother -- but it's just classic Anne Lamott, everyone can read it and find themselves in it somewhere. I was much more interested in her contributions than in those of Sam (or the others who contributed small bits, emails, etc), but the book as a whole was great fun to read. ( )
  StormySleep | Feb 6, 2014 |
Anne Lamott always moves me and makes me look around at others in the world with love and wonder, and this book is no exception. I'm going to be a first-time grandmother in October, so it had special meaning for me -- especially the bits where she's trying to figure out how to be a grandmother -- but it's just classic Anne Lamott, everyone can read it and find themselves in it somewhere. I was much more interested in her contributions than in those of Sam (or the others who contributed small bits, emails, etc), but the book as a whole was great fun to read. ( )
  StormySleep | Feb 6, 2014 |
not as good as Operating instructions.... :9 ( )
  GaltJ | Jan 24, 2014 |
Ugh. I really don't enjoy the author's "presence" . . . much less her relentless anti-Catholic barbs and more than slightly patronizing tone. I finished this one in the constant hope that the put-upon mother of her grandson would wise up and get as far away from her as possible. Alas, that didn't happen by the end, although it was hinted at. ( )
  marti.booker | Dec 2, 2013 |
I am not sure what I was expecting with this book, but I found it to be a preachy, self-absorbed tale of one woman's journey into grandmother-hood. I did not enjoy reading this book very much at all, mostly because I found many of the characters so darn unlikeable. The author was a controlling, self-absorbed and very religious woman who spent most of her time navel gazing and making ponderous ruminations on the nature of love and life. I found it ever-so-tedious almost immediately. Add to this the ostensible lead characters, namely the son (and father of the grandchild in question) and his partner who are both immature and selfish. They are, of course, perfectly entitled to be both at their age, but it makes for unenjoyable reading. ( )
  Meggo | Oct 20, 2013 |
Yes Anne Lamott can be a bit over the top at times, but she is funny and she can write so amazingly well that you just have to stop sometimes and think about how wonderfully she just said something. This is a chronicle of her first year as a grandmother. Anne and I are the same age and so are our children, and I can only imagine how shocked I would have been to have had a 19 year old present me with a grandson. The story of how she transitions from mom to grandmother (not always well) is honest and well told. ( )
  judiparadis | Jul 13, 2013 |
I picked this up because I had read and loved Operating Instructions. I supposed I would've appreciated and related to this book much more if I were a grandmother, but Anne Lamott's well-written and beautiful words kept me reading and I finished feeling satisfied.
I will want to re-read this again when I have grandchildren ;)
  deadgirl | May 4, 2013 |
I LOVED Operating Instructions. As a matter of fact it was one of my all-time favorite books. This follow up is good (a lot of her humour is in it), but just is not as hysterical as the first one. Still a good read. ( )
  espref | Apr 16, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
For fans of Anne Lamott this book will be another satisfying read. The book provides more of her reflections on life with a mixture of progressive Protestantism and American culture motifs. Some Assembly Required chronicles the first year of her Grandson and the changes that are brought about by being a grandmother and having a daughter-in-law who is conflicted in her status as mother and wife.
An addition to this book is sections written by her son, Sam. Readers of Lamott’s books will be familiar with Sam as she has told stories about him throughout her books. These intermixed chapters provide refreshing breaks from Anne Lamott’s tendency to provide a bit too much introspection at the cost of not recognizing the world around her.
However, while there is a certain interest in hearing both of these voices, there was something that was missing in comparison to other books by her. There was a certain “phoned-in” quality to the book. The freshness and vibrancy of her prose seemed to have fallen a bit flat for this book. It would not be that surprising, much of her comments are about how tired she is. Perhaps part of the reason is the journal style of the book. The book is arranged by dates in a journal. It is not stated how much editing went into the journal entries for publication, but this format lends itself to the flatness of the prose. ( )
  morningrob | Aug 15, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I delayed reviewing this book for quite some time because I love Anne Lamott. And I have loved every book she's written and my first reaction to this book was negative. Why would someone write such a tale? Why would someone expose their child and their relationships and confusion in such a manner? Well, isn't' this what Anne Lamott does in all of her writings? In other books, I could appreciate the openness and honesty and grab onto those thoughts from which I could learn. I guess this one may have touched me in a place I'm not yet ready to explore. It will remain on my Lamott shelf for the time when I am ready to read and value what she has written. Today, though, I didn't like it. ( )
  marasgma | Aug 9, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was so excited to receive an advanced reader's copy of Anne Lamott's newest book. I've enjoyed her previous books, especially Operating Instructions and Travelling Mercies. Lamott has a way of writing that is both honest and kind. She reflects on her life in a way that I connect to and often think "that's exactly what I thought!" Her ability to write so clearly of love and faith into daily life is a gift.

This memoir covers the first year of her grandson. She reflects on this change in her life, as well as the impact on her son's life, Sam. It's fun to read and hear the connections between the Lamott's first year as Mom, and her understanding of Sam's first year as Dad. The joys, fears, pains, and hopes that accompany parenthood are evident in this book. Definately recommended! ( )
  bnelson520 | Jul 9, 2012 |
Author: Anne Lamott
Title: Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son
Description : Anne Lamott’s son Sam learned that he and his girlfriend, Amy, would become parents when Sam was just nineteen. Lamott, who wrote about Sam’s first year in Operating Instructions, continues the tradition here with the first year of her grandson Jax.
Writing style: Classic Lamott. She writes here in journal form, with dates as headings, rather than chapter titles. There are some passages written by others: friends, family, and especially Sam, who receives co-author credit.
Audience: Christians, non-Christians, parents, grandparents, teens, people who hope to be parents, sober people.
Major ideas: As much as we love those who are closest to us, we cannot live their lives or make their decisions for them. Everything does not revolve around me, even when I think it does.
Wrap-up: I’ve called Anne Lamott my literary bff, so I wait for every one of her books like kids wait for Christmas. She has preceded me in life by just a little: Sam was nineteen at the beginning of this book, and my own son is seventeen now. So I read her books and learn from her and try to remember what she has taught me. She’s funny and wise and real. 5/5* ( )
  gveach | Jun 24, 2012 |
I love Anne Lamott. I look forward to her next book. I don't know her, so everything that follows is a review, not some kind of reporting or psychological analysis.

I didn't like this book, and it's hard to say this, because it does contain some real gems. But she wrote it too soon. I get why she had to write it - it's Jax's first year. The subtitle explains it, wittily, but a bit sadly: "A Journal of My Son's First Son". She's a writer of often brilliant memoirs and personal reflections. She wrote a journal of her son's first year. Now her son's son is born. How can she *not* write about her son's son's first year? But she pulls her punches because she's not ready.

She's always been so honest, but here she clearly has to hold back. She loves her family, but she's really angry with them, and it's painful. She loves her son and Jax, and she wants to love Jax's mom, but she doesn't, not yet. So there she is: her own history - she was an older mom, but the pregnancy was unplanned and, initially, very distressing - constrains her from expressing her anger and disappointment. As well, her faith - which for Lamott is a daily, hourly, breath-by-breath experience - somehow seems to demand that she refrain from anything ungenerous or unkind. She's been able to balance that before, to hilarious and smartly subversive effect, but with her most beloved son and grandson, she has to retreat. I get that. But this book wasn't ready to be written, so it kind of hurts to read it. ( )
  Magatha | Jun 7, 2012 |
Anne Lamott wonderfully and honestly described having an infant in Operating Instructions. Here she, along with her son, Sam, writes about Sam's new baby, Jax, and her role as grandmother. Check out my complete review on my blog here: http://www.notthenewyorktimesbookreview.blogspot.com/2012/06/some-assembly-requi... ( )
  lisalangford | Jun 5, 2012 |
(120) ( )
  activelearning | May 17, 2012 |
The very first Anne Lamott book I ever read was Operating Instructions, her wonderful, honest retelling of her first year with son Sam. My own son was either in his first or second year when I read it (it had been out for a while by then) and it was so incredibly reassuring to see that I wasn't the only mom out there who was gobsmacked by both the incredible miracle of that baby and the bone weary frustration that comes as a package deal with an infant. She never sugar-coated the lows even in the midst of celebrating the highs. This second memoir of babyhood is not about Sam, long since a young man, but about his son Jax. It is every bit as much a love letter as the first book was but from an entirely new perspective, that of a doting grandmother.

Sam is only 19 when he and his girlfriend Amy blindside their families with the news that Amy is pregnant. Lamott chronicles her rather unenthusiastic reaction to this news honestly and goes on to describe the turmoil and struggles these two young people face as they negotiate a relationship with frequent rocky patches and the added responsibility of an infant. Told both through Lamott's reminiscences and through e-mails between she and Sam and other friends, this almost has a very familiar feel to it. As Sam grows into fatherhood, maturing faster than he might have without the advent of his son, Lamott observes his struggles, with school and responsibility and relationship. She is quite candid about her own insecurities and imperfections as a grandmother, desperately afraid that Amy will move back to the Midwest or the East Coast with baby Jax, taking him out of Lamott's daily orbit. Her friends' wise counsel about her fears and her doubts calm her and make her more able to avoid confronting Amy out of fear but these repeated anxieties do begin to sound overly self-centered and occur altogether too frequently.

Unlike in Operating Instructions though, Lamott seems to be choosing many of her words very carefully. Operating Instructions was unvarnished truth; Some Assembly Required, when focused anywhere but on herself, is cautious and mindful of the potential to hurt others, which unfortunately weakens the memoir, leaving the reader to wonder if Lamott's been as candid as she would if she wasn't worried about Sam and Amy's reaction to her take on their relationship and the experiences of Jax's first year. Lamott also suffers a bit from that grandmotherly malady, unreserved, untempered, gushing love for her grandchild. Not that she didn't love Sam from the deepest corners of her heart, but she was able to more clearly chronicle the struggles of his babyhood and the emotional trials that motherhood brought. Here it feels more as if Jax's babyhood is nothing but wonderful aside from her worries about Sam and Amy's relationship wobbles and her own imagined anxieties about Amy's state of mind. I do like Lamott's non-fiction and I think this was a good enough book but she's been great so this was a bit of a let-down. ( )
1 vote whitreidtan | May 3, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Reading any new nonfiction by Anne Lamott is like visiting an old friend. Introduced to her in Traveling Mercies, and getting to know her better in Bird By Bird, Plan B, and Operating Instructions, I found both someone I could relate to and learn from. She is someone who is a little further along life’s road than I am, and is willing to share some hard-earned love and wisdom. Lamott has a unique, often self-deprecating voice, one I delightedly recognize when I read her books. Here, in her newest, she doesn’t disappoint as she shares the journey into grandmotherhood.

It’s easy to see one’s self in Lamott’s middle-aged angst. While relishing the fruits of her rich faith, fellowship, and career, one also still recognizes that the journey relational-maturity never ends. In Some Assembly Required, Sam, now a young adult, steps into a new role as a father, propelling Lamott into a grandmother role. And that might be all joy but for the challenges of relinquishing control.

Lamott does a wonderful job of letting the reader take a peek into the crazy, wonderful love that grandparents have for their grandchildren. Also, she demonstrates how difficult it can be to let her child be a parent, learning as he goes, just as she did. She allows Sam to share some of his journey through interviews and emails, and in this way we get to know Sam better.

Overall this is a lovely little book that I enjoyed very much. It isn’t her best, and if there is one weakness here, it is a necessary one. In her attempt to love and respect her adult son, her grandson’s mother, and that young woman’s extended family, there is a sense of holding back at times. Lamott simply cannot delve too deeply into the troubles that seem to plague this young couple. Instead she focuses on what is good and hopeful. This is appropriate, but something is lost there too. Like all of Lamott’s nonfiction, her story, just like her life and every life, is revealed to be a joyous and challenging work in progress. ( )
  alaskabookworm | May 1, 2012 |
I usually adore Lamott's memoirs, but this one just didn't do it for me. Too much like a simple diary, not enough introspection. ( )
  cherilove | Apr 20, 2012 |
I am so surprised that I did not enjoy this book as much as I had anticipated. After reading the book's description, I was sure that I would connect with the author and her account of becoming a young grandmother, but alas, that was not the case. Instead, Ms. Lamott's journal-style memoir seemed to focus more on secondary details and glaze over the bigger picture. I struggled to connect with any of the story's characters; Anne, Sam, or Amy. I suppose I just expected to read more of her own journey towards accepting and embracing the situation and less about new-agey meditation rooms. With that being said, there were a few gems hidden throughout that made me chuckle, such as Ms. Lamott's internal battles against her own tendency to try and fix everything. Now that I can relate to.

Please note that I received a complementary copy of this book from Shelf Awareness which has not influenced my review. Thank you. ( )
  TemeculaMomma | Apr 5, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While I've read several of her books I think this was the one that made me finally grow weary of her seeming lack to really learn from things and need so much reassurance on virtually every aspect of her life. Apparently I do have my limits and there were not enough redeeming discoveries to offset that. She remains an excellent writer although with an unfortunate main character. ( )
  jd234512 | Mar 27, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was so pleased to receive an advanced reader's copy of Anne Lamott's newest memoir. Over the years I have read most of her fiction and non-fiction and have been drawn to her style. I appreciate the honesty and candor of her writing and often find myself thinking..."I can't believe she really said that!" yet her words often echo those that are in my head but I am too cowardly to actually utter.

This memoir covers a new role in her life, that of Grandmother, as she with her son, Sam, chronicle the first year of her grandson, Jax's, life. We met Sam in her previous memoir, "Operating Instructions" where she recounted her first year as a new mother.

In this memoir she writes of her feelings, her hopes, fears, joy and sorrow that come with life...especially when you must stand on the sidelines and watch your son become a father.

I enjoyed the book and find it very believable! ( )
  SignoraEdie | Mar 26, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I read Anne Lamott's book about her son Sam's first year of life (Operating Instructions) back during my first year of motherhood. So, in some twisted and narcissistic way, I had it in my head that her son Sam was about the same age as my son—as that is when I became aware of him. (It could also have been a persistent "mommy brain" notion that never quite left me.) So it was with a bit of a shock when I saw Lamott's new memoir, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son. "How could little Sam possibly have a child?" I marveled to myself. Of course, Sam isn't 7 like my son. He is 19. (Still pretty young to be a father but certainly within the realm of believability.) Always wanting to find out "how things turned out" in any story, I eagerly started the book—excited to catch up with Anne and Sam's life since we last spent time together.

Within a few pages, I was reminded of just why I love Anne Lamott. She has a brutal honesty about herself and her life that is both self-depreciating, amusing and authentic. She writes from her heart, and she isn't afraid to show us all aspects of herself—from her neurotic and selfish sides to the spiritual and open searching soul she works on so assiduously. Her writing is never fancy or condescending. Rather, it is heartfelt yet with a sly irreverence and joking tone that always lets you know she is aware of her frailties and flaws. I'd love to have her as a friend.

The subject of her son's first son is fraught with all kinds of emotional minefields that challenge Anne in a myriad of different ways. Not only does she struggle with the idea becoming a grandmother at the age of 55, but her son's complex and volatile relationship with his girlfriend Amy adds a tricky new dimension to Anne's relationship with her grandchild Jax. Anne falls hard and fast for Jax and has clear ideas about how things can and should be for this young couple. Yet Amy is a strong-willed young woman who decided to have Jax regardless of what anyone else felt ... and she has her own ideas about how things will be. Worse yet, Amy's roots are not in the San Francisco area where Anne and Sam are deeply ensconced. As Amy struggles with her identity as a mother and her need to be with her own family, this threat of Jax being "taken away" hangs over Anne's (and Sam's) head like a piano held by the thinnest of threads.

When a young couple who are not established in the world or with each other (Sam is still in art school when Jax is born and Amy is staying with Sam in his tiny apartment; they have a volatile relationship and had broken up several times before Amy became pregnant) decide to have a child together, it isn't easy for a mother (including one who pays many of the bills) to simply step aside and watch them. Throughout the book, Anne struggles with how involved to get, how much she can say, how much support to offer. It is a tricky balancing act that requires all of Anne's spiritual maturity to sort through—and even then she is plagued with moments of needing to control things that overwhelm her and threaten to engulf the precarious new relationships developing between everyone. Yet with her considerable support system, Anne manages to work through her new identity as grandmother and forge a kind of peace with the role.

In addition to getting Anne's point of view (which includes everything that is going on in her life during this year, including a trip to India and a book tour), the book also includes sections written by Sam Lamott about how he is viewing fatherhood at the tender age of 19. It was enlightening and heartening to get a glimpse inside Sam's psyche and his obvious delight and love for Jax. It is very clear that Anne and Sam have a mother-son bond that is solid and tightly woven with strands of love, understanding and respect.

Anne Lamott has led an interesting life (having overcome alcoholism, family dysfunction and taken on single motherhood when she was financially and emotionally unprepared) and managed to come through with grace and good spirit. I love how she is utterly herself (including her trademark dreadlocks) but is so completely relatable that you feel like you know her already. Her writing has a directness and beauty to it that is characteristic of someone who is writing from their authentic self. Besides this book, I'd also recommend Operating Instructions and her excellent writing book, Bird by Bird. Her memoirs on her spiritual journey (although Traveling Mercies is the only one I've read so far) are also well done. Although I've read two of her novels, and found that I prefer her memoirs more. ( )
  Jenners26 | Mar 21, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Anne Lamott's new book is about the first year in the life of her grandson, Jax. That's right, baby Sam from Operating Instructions is now old enough to have a son. Most of the book is written by Anne herself. Sam’s contributions mostly come in the form of e-mails and interviews with Anne. As the title suggests, the book is written as a journal, with a few e-mailed entries from Sam and his partner, Amy. Most of the entries are Anne’s day-to-day thoughts on becoming a grandmother and a mother of a young parent. But it’s not all baby love and grandmotherly angst. She also writes about a trip to India, a death in the family, a family wedding, church services, parties, and the day-to-day pleasures and annoyances that make life what it is. You don’t have to be a new grandmother to find something to relate to.

The thing that’s so wonderful about Anne Lamott is that she says all the things I sometimes think but wouldn’t dare say out loud. When she doesn’t feel like going to church but goes anyway, she’ll say that it sucks that all those hymns give God an unfair advantage so that she can’t stay mad. She refers to her mentor as horrible Bonnie, no doubt because Bonnie always says the things she doesn’t want to hear, but Anne knows she needs to hear them so she still turns to horrible Bonnie when she’s hurting. Because that’s the other thing about Anne Lamott. She says seemingly mean that most other people simply couldn’t get away with, at least not right out in public. I think the key is that she’s so willing to talk about her own foibles and moments of foolishness and, perhaps more important, that she’s so open and embracing of other people.

This love of life comes through in the way she writes. She’s a very observant writer who makes note of small details and describes them in down-to-earth ways. Her prose is poetic, yet earthy. And her frequent sarcasm keeps it from seeming precious. She gets away with a lot that would have me rolling my eyes if it came from another writer. In writing about her faith, she doesn’t come across as trying to teach people how to be better Christians. She writes about it because it’s part of her life and not talking about it would be impossible, dishonest even.

What I love about this book precisely what I love about Anne Lamott's other nonfiction. Her wit, her honesty, her insights, her openness. It’s all there. It is a little different from her essay collections in that it’s a journal and revolves largely but not entirely on her new role as a grandmother. But her voice is her voice, and that’s what I sign up for when I read Lamott. She didn’t disappointment me there one bit.

See a longer version of this review at Shelf Love. ( )
  teresakayep | Mar 11, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In the end, it's really all about her.

Okay, I get it: it's a memoir. I hate it when I have nothing nice to say about a memoir, because I feel like I'm being mean to the actual people IN the memoir, and three of the main characters in this memoir are very young: Lamott's son Sam, Sam's girfriend Amy, and their little boy. Lamott's memoir is subtitled "A Journey of My Son's First Son," but irritatingly, it is hardly that:; rather it is a journal of a weirdly self-absorbed and controlling grandmother and her rather phony-sounding attitudes toward the younger three members of her family. I kept getting the impression that Lamott was saying to herself, "Okay, now, must maintain a relationship with Amy - time to say something nice even though she is making my life hell." Or attitudes to that effect:: falseness was the keynote of this memoir. I have read and enjoyed Lamott's previous work and it surprised me immeasurably to discover how much I was NOT enjoying this one. The only thing I can attribute this difference to is that, in her spiritual writing, Lamott is all about the ideas; this time, it really did seem to be all about herself - and this time, I just didn't like her.

Here's a strange thing: two of my daughters picked up this book and read a few pages. These two young women are as different as chalk and cheese, but oddly, they both put the book down after making the identical comment: "Ugh, how can you read this? I can't stand this woman." I wouldn't go that far - there are a few touching moments - but this isn't Lamott's best work by a long shot. ( )
  2chances | Mar 10, 2012 |
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