Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. In my experience, Pulitzer Prize winning books are generally about the human condition. This book is no exception.

In a story reminiscent of Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, Strout tells the story of many people in a small coastal town. Each story reads like a short story, and some left me wanting to know more, but the majority of the stories center around the character Olive Kitteridge. Olive is a math teacher who is married to a kind man. They have one child who feels the pressure of being the only child to a quiet father and a domineering mother. Olive is emotional and easily angered, but at times she is stoic and helpful.

This novel puts the reader inside the heads of many different characters and shows that no one has a picture perfect life. We all face disappointment, trials, and joys.

This book also shows that sometimes we need to be in the right place in our life to appreciate a book. While perusing Goodreads reviews, I noticed that many of the one or two star ratings came from younger readers. I'm not sure that this book is for younger readers. I doubt that I would have had the life experiences needed to fully appreciate it at age 20, 30, or even 40, but now that I am in my 50s, this book resonates with me.

I feel the fear and worry that encroaching age brings into a relationship. I don't want to be a widow now or in twenty years. After raising several children, I see the worry of having children move far away, longing to see them more often, and missing them dearly. I see that life can often be hard and disappointing and that loneliness can bring people together even if they wouldn't like each other normally.

This book is honest. It shows that even though we may not act on all our thoughts, our thoughts can often be inappropriate. This book contains strong language in some parts, but I didn't feel like the author used it out of context, and I am okay with profanity if it fits the story and isn't marketed to young children.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to my older more mature readers. :)

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies.

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