Review: "Olive Kitterage" by Elizabeth Strout

This novel unfolds through 13 portraits of people living in a small town on the coast of Maine. A large, brutally honest, no-nonsense retired math teacher, Olive sees her fellow townspeople mainly as nincompoops, ninnies, and dopes, and blames others for nearly all of her life's discomforts.

Widowed at 74, Olive slowly awakens to herself. Through her losses and disappointments, she begins to notice both the emptiness and the beauty of her days.When she finds tentative love in the arms of a man she would have barely tolerated previously, my heart flooded with joy.

How had I come to care about her so much? Terrific writing, full of nuanced, perfectly chosen details. Rich in surprises, suffering and smiles, this book deserved the Pulitzer prize. (As a slow writer, I was gratified to find credits for the stories go back to 1992).

What was the joy about? At any age, each of us carries the possibility of growing up. Any of us can discover a deeper way of experiencing ourselves, our relations and our world. So let's not wait.

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