I heard so much about this book through the grapevine, I even read a chapter of it when I was an MFA for class. First, let me say that Elizabeth Strout is insanely good at writing: best examples include Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys, imo).
So, when I began reading this novel, I was surprised by it’s delicate weight, by its interior voice, by the thin melancholy and want to be loved that the narrator felt towards her mother. It was heartbreaking. I can see why others may not resonate with it (as much of the story is told between the silences), but it was so, so brave. The family dynamic of living with abuse also felt true to form, especially the abuse of families that transform emotion into weakness.
The ending was sad for me, but felt true. I didn’t expect Strout to bring us something so personal, but it helped me recognize that she’s one of the best writers out there today. I read her in conversation with Ann Patchett and Amy Hempel.