ANY BITTER THING by Monica Wood

ANY BITTER THING

KIRKUS REVIEW

A catastrophic accident forces a young Catholic wife to question the good intentions of those around her, in Wood’s polished second outing (after My Only Story, 2003), set in small-town Maine

Incredibly, the abandonment of Lizzy Mitchell on the side of the road after she’s hit by a car one March night becomes the third traumatic desertion of her life: the first occurred when her parents died in an airplane crash, leaving her orphaned at age two; the second from the vanishing of her caretaker uncle, Father Mike, when she was nine. Nobody believes that Lizzy remembers a visitation when she was in the hospital after the accident—not even her husband, Drew, who is trying to repair their marriage after suspicions of his infidelity drove Lizzy out the night of the accident. Yet Lizzy swears that her beloved Father Mike was there, although she has always been told that he died shortly after the dubious child molestation charges wrested the priest away from her. A 30-year-old counselor in a high school, Lizzy suddenly receives word from the so-called Bad Samaritan who moved her body after she was struck by another car and then left her on the side of the road after calling 911: this aged broken-hearted alcoholic, Harry Griggs, desperately seeks her forgiveness but then doesn’t have the strength to use her confidence in turning his life around. After an opening bang, Wood gradually works her way back in time, using alternating points of view and time periods to unravel the soulful mystery of these deeply scarred and intensely human characters. The trials visited upon Lizzy both as a child and adult seem brutally unendurable, and yet her vulnerability becomes her strength. Overall, Wood keeps a firm control, even when testing poor Father Mike with every temptation imaginable. Quotes from The Liturgy of the Hours delicately weave a Christian message throughout.

A quiet tale with epic repercussions.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-8118-4604-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2005