In this case, the blurb does a great job: Mattie Ryder is marvelously neurotic, well-intentioned, funny, religious, sarcastic, tender, angry, and broke. Her life at the moment is a wreck: her marriage has failed, her mother is failing, her house is rotting, her waist is expanding, her children are misbehaving, and she has a crush on a married man. Then she finds a small rubber blue shoe—nothing more than a gumball trinket—left behind by her father. For Mattie, it becomes a talisman—a chance to recognize the past for what it was, to see the future as she always hoped it could be, and to finally understand her family, herself, and the ever-unfolding mystery of her sweet, sad, and sometimes surprising life.
I loved this story. Of late, I have read slower-paced books like this and enjoyed them, but Blue Shoe is the frosting on my cake. The characters were beautifully drawn - each distinct and unforgettable. The writing was exceptional. Here are some excerpts:
'It was not facing what life dealt that made you crazy, but rather trying to set life straight where it was unstraightenable.'
'When she sat down, she curled around herself, wrapping one leg around the other as if she were made out of pipe cleaners.'
'One rainy morning in mid-March, Ella sat at the window staring like a cat at the snakes of water that raced down the pane.’
Most of all, I think it was the raw honesty of the little things that I encountered with reading this book that impressed me most. The brokenness and pain was clean in its intensity - a toe pressed in a bath that is too hot. Real and gasping. Interspersed with moments of pure loveliness, too. Like life.
A gorgeous 4 star read.
You may also enjoy Some Luck by Jane Smiley or A spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler