Book Review: Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet
Anna has a baby, hears voices, and runs away from her lousy husband to an increasingly strange motel in Maine.
This summary doesnâ€™t really encompass what Sweet Lamb of Heaven is all about, but to go deeper, Iâ€™d have to spoil it.
Only a small subset of people can see this evil in its pure form. Enter the “Very Special Person” plot.
Not just anyone can save the world. It takes a Very Special Person to see the evil and eradicate it (think every dystopian YA novel youâ€™ve read in the past five years).
In “The Ten Oâ€™Clock People,” itâ€™s those who smoke only occasionally who can see the monsters. In Sweet Lamb of Heaven, it’s only the Hearing Voices group. To everyone else, the monsters appear normal, blending frighteningly well into society.
Much the same ultimately happens in Sweet Lamb of Heaven, with the understanding that getting through the life-altering tragedy was only the first event of many more to come. The battle had only begun.
Sweet Lamb of Heaven has its share of flaws. Again, Iâ€™m frustrated by a character who seemingly waits for things to happen to her or for her, rather than doing things in the first place that could have saved herself from trouble.
Itâ€™s difficult to see why the motel guests do so much for her (other than proximity to the adorable kid) when the favors seem so one-sided. But, of course, she has the Very Special Person factor granting her instant access to this club of misfits.
The magic of the Very Special Person plot device is that weâ€™re supposed to imagine ourselves there. We get to vicariously leave behind our every-day routines and imagine ourselves too as Very Special.
Forget gathering up the dirty socks for the wash, preparing a nutritious meal your family will complain about, or planning your next Netflix binge. Thereâ€™s a world to be saved! And only your Very Important self can do it.
While this may sound like a tirade, itâ€™s more a winking acknowledgement from the fun we as readers get to have.