A set of autobiographical essays that explore family, faith, friendship, and service.
Capone’s (I Punched Myself in the Eye, 2015, etc.) latest book opens with a prologue that establishes its central, unifying theme. In it, she explains that the title of the work was inspired by the story of the “little engine that could”; it’s fitting, she says, because it’s how “love seems to have shown up in my life: underdog love, tenacious love—small love that turns into big love.” Over the course of 65 pieces, the author examines how various aspects of love have touched her life. Her subjects include her bond with her adoptive family, her volunteer work with her church and an organization that aids girls in Guatemala, her trips to Italy with her husband, and the importance of friendship and finding connections with others. Capone occasionally uses references to popular culture to underscore her essays’ themes. In “Spoiler,” for instance, she draws parallels between a relationship on the NBC television show This Is Us and her own connection to her adoptive parents. Other highlights of the collection include “Don’t Throw Away the Oar,” in which an account of her efforts to acquire an old rowboat turns into a meditation on her 33-year marriage, and “I Know She Happened,” a poignant tribute to a friend who died after a long battle with cancer. Capone’s Christian faith is a central element of many essays, including “Ragamuffin,” “Little Seed into Big Tree,” and “Risk vs. Reward,” and she delivers her spiritual messages with nuance and grace. She also demonstrates fun wordplay in “Happy Hour,” in which she affectionately describes her favorite “Pew with a View” at her church.
A thoughtful, inspiring collection that may appeal to fans of Erma Bombeck’s and Anne Lamott’s work.