A few more years would pass before the anger accrued from childhood was "siphoned out…like poison from a snakebite" and Mary Karr could say to her dying mother, "I hate that you're leaving…. I just got used to you."
Karr doesn't belabor the point, but we see how and why she never could have written The Liars' Club, Cherry, or Lit without the self-knowledge and serenity that faith gave her. You don't have to share that faith to be grateful that she found it; Lit brings to a fitting close a trilogy of astonishing memoirs that have enlarged our hearts with their piercing portraits of the human condition in all its messy glory.
Wendy Smith, a contributing editor of The American Scholar, reviews books frequently for the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post. She previously reviewed Trouble by Kate Christensen on AARP The Magazine Online.
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