Let it Be is a story of a family falling apart and at least partially coming back together in the 1970s. It makes use of The Beatles’ album, Let It Be, as both a part of the story and part of the structure, with each title having the name of a different song off the album. Beatle fans who are drawn to the book for that reason, however, should beware.
The use of the album seems more of a gimmick, honestly, than an integral part of the story, something to help the author as a story-telling tool more than an essential element to edify the reader. The story could just have easily been written without that gimmick. If any one of the characters had been more than a casual Beatles fan, it might have worked better. Using the album was an interesting idea, but for this reader it ultimately did not work well.
The plot of the book follows Michelle Johnson, who is in the process of trying to rebuild her life and that of her teenage daughter and young son in the late 1970’s after leaving her abusive husband and moving halfway across Texas. The story of how they all struggle to adjust is told from a number of viewpoints, including Michelle’s, her son’s, her daughter’s (briefly), her ex-husband’s and the man who she becomes involved with and who begins to show her how much better her life can be.
Throughout everything runs the dark threat posed by Michelle’s ex-husband and his unpredictable temper and the confusion and divided loyalties of her son. The daughter’s part of the story seems fairly insignificant.
The book is short but intense and very realistic. Ultimately, though, it is only partially satisfying.. Telling the story from so many different viewpoints makes it feel scattered and disconnected, with no real center. The ending seems quite anti-climactic and not very satisfying. It seems as though the writer simply got in a hurry to finish it and rushed the ending, skipping a great deal of story which might have made the book feel more finished. The sudden switch in narration from the son as a child to the son as a grown man is also sudden and disconcerting.
Readers who enjoy stories of dysfunctional families, however, may find this one to their taste. It is a quick and easy read so if you enjoy this sort of story by all means give it a try. But do not buy it because of the Beatles reference because you may be disappointed at the lack of depth of that connection.