Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
By all accounts, Jewel E. Ann’s For Lucy is a quintessential JEA book. With its reticent hero, a storyline that points to the tip of the iceberg for much of its story without readily unveiling the entire iceberg, and a twist that leaves you emotionally drained and overwhelmed, For Lucy is everything you adore about Jewel E. Ann.
As is the case with any of her books, the requirement for For Lucy should be a tissue box. In fact, I’m thinking she needs a cross-promotion with Kleenex. An emotionally wrought story that reveals itself incrementally, moving seamlessly between the past and present, this book feels like an emotional juggernaut for her. It will be easy to dislike the heroine of For Lucy because her hero, Emmett, shows a capacity for love beyond imagination. He is the definition of unconditional love in the way that he loves his heroine, Tatum, and his daughter, Lucy. But don’t be fooled, though. As you read this book, you must remember that it’s a singular point of view, more specifically Emmett’s. This automatically makes him an unreliable narrator. Therefore it’s impossible to fully “see” Tatum because we don’t get the fullness of her characterization beyond any kind of light other than the one that Emmett shines over her. There will be moments in For Lucy when you don’t like her. But remind yourself that you can’t know Tatum’s feelings, motivations, and complete thoughts without her point of view, and you won’t get it in this story.
With that, what is most profound about For Lucy is Jewel E. Ann’s dual message about love and forgiveness. I felt challenged by Ann’s insistence at looking at the scope of love and forgiveness as they are intertwined in this story. Through the vessel of Tatum and Emmett’s journey, you’ll feel the slipperiness of love: how it can be diminished or incapacitated by the actions of others. And, honestly, it feels a bit ugly in your soul when you realize that this is a part of the human condition. This is Jewel E. Ann’s genius in For Lucy. She asks you to consider the depth of your love for another person and its limitations.
Even more, there is a decided insistence in looking at the love of a parent. Which is a deeper love – the love for a child or the love for a spouse? As wave after wave of past memories add to Emmett’s journey, you see his almost inhuman capacity to love another flawed being, and it cuts at you. It’s in this where you, the reader, struggle to like Tatum. Yet, instead of looking at her with a growing disdain, Jewel E. Ann is asking us to look inward to question ourselves by placing ourselves in Emmett and Tatum’s shoes. In that struggle, you will or should find your own truths about your capacity to love others the face of the failings of humanity. I think what you find at the end of For Lucy is a better understanding of one’s ability to forgive, move on, and love another through it all.
And in true Jewel E. Ann fashion, she writes an ending that reads as both didactic and entertaining. She brings you the perfect ending for Tatum, Emmett, and Lucy, and she reminds you in her quiet ways that the cut of trauma can find its salve with love and forgiveness.
One suggestion: Be sure to have a box of tissue near you. Besides this being a 5-star read, For Lucy is a four hanky story. Once again, Jewel E. Ann finds a space to inhabit interrogating the human condition, and she leaves you changed.
In love and romance,