Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Lila is the third book in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead series. I’m reading them out of order based on what’s available at the library, but they are all stand-alone so I’m not too worried! I’m going to have to buy my own copies of these books, I can already tell. They have incredible re-read potential!

Lila is John Ames’ wife in Gilead. She’s a mysterious figure who is so much younger than her husband. While she brings him so much joy, she also brings confusion about her past and worries for the future. Finally, we learn about her life and what brought her into the church and out of the rain on the fateful day that she met John Ames.

This book is full of searching – searching for belonging and searching for understanding. Lila’s loneliness is something that you can almost reach out and touch. She tries desperately to understand her past and why bad things happen to people, whether they’re “good” or not. And John Ames, with his own desperate attempts to reconcile his faith with what he sees everyday in the world, attempts to help her.

It’s so heartening to see people grapple with these issues; it helps me feel less alone. Watching John Ames – and how he’s asked himself the same questions for over 70 years and still doesn’t have a good answer – helps me know I’m on the right track. Maybe there aren’t answers. But that doesn’t stop the questions, especially when life gets more complicated by the day and I’m seeking comfort.

This book is written beautifully. As I said in my post about Gilead, I was so worried that Marilynn Robinson’s writing would be too smart for me. And it is. I’m sure I’m “missing” so much of what she has to say. But there are small bits that I’m getting, I’m captivated by her stories, and I close the book with my head swirling with thoughts. What could be better?


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