Olive Kitteridge is a beautifully written novel about the complexities of perception and human existence. It won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was our November Kewaunee Library Book Club pick.
Olive Kitteridge is made up of thirteen short stories about various people who live in the small town of Crosby, Maine. They are all interlinked by the appearance of Olive Kitteridge. Olive is sometimes a main character, sometimes a strong secondary, and other times just a person that is only briefly seen or mentioned. Overall, this makes a very compelling portrait of Olive Kitteridge. Olive is a wife, mother, and teacher. She is viewed differently from all angles.
I thought it was a very interesting study on perception. You are viewed as someone completely different by those who know you throughout your life in different capacities. The most compelling portrait in the book to me was how Olive viewed her son and the way she raised him as compared to how in turn he viewed her and his upbringing. It was tragic to see Olive’s perceptions shattered in a confrontation with her son.
The descriptions, characters, and writing were wonderful. I at times had a hard time with the character of Olive. She is quite the character and not always a woman you can love. A lot of the stories are rather depressing, but overall I enjoyed the book. I’ve thought about it a lot since I finished reading it on Friday. It is a deep book and rather hard to describe in a review!
I had many favorite quotes, but I picked out two to share.
“God, I love young people, “Harmon said. “They get griped about enough. People like to think the younger generation’s job is to steer the world to hell. But it’s never true, is it? They’re hopeful and good – and that’s how it should be.”
I can agree with that. I get tired of people always thinking the generation younger than them is more evil than before!
“People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.”
That is certainly true. People, myself included, tend to think about the future and not just enjoy the now. This book also seemed to have a theme of enjoying and living life now and not taking it and your loved ones for granted.
Overall, this book is a must read.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library