Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam
Other Press, New York, 2011
From my TBR pile. I first read an excerpt of Lamb in Harper’s last summer and was completely drawn in by Nadzam’s writing.
David Lamb’s life is falling apart. His marriage is over, his father has died and he is in danger of losing his job because of an office affair. Then, while sitting in a parking lot, a young girl approaches him on a dare. This is eleven-year-old Tommie, bumbling and awkward and, Lamb thinks, a to change his life.
At first it seems Lamb truly wants to help Tommie, to offer her the things he feels are missing from her life. Then, when he decides to take her on a road trip to a cabin in the west, the reader has to question his motives.
Dear girl, how could she not carry Lamb with her, all the grassy fields he painted hanging between her little face and the world, bright screens printed with the images he made for her: flashes of green and silver; huge birds circling in the wind; the wet brown eyes of a horse; yellow eggs on a breakfast dish; the curve of their backs on a weathered rail fence on a cool blue morning. From page 36
This pair, so awkward and needy, make it hard to stop reading and yet the possibilities are terrifying. Lamb’s lies become clear but is he lying to Tommie or to himself? Does it matter? Nazdam’s writing surrounds her characters, covers their emotional dysfunction and manipulation with layers of beauty.
A stunning, morally ambiguous novel, Lamb is dangerous and difficult book. It will be on my 2012 favorites list.