Across the years of my life, I have read many books that illustrate the life of someone normal, stories without the magic or crazy plot twists or horror elements. And there are a couple of those books that I have really liked, as there is a sort of pull towards novels about everyday life. However, none of those compare to “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout. It is a story about the life of Olive Kitteridge, but for the majority of the book, it is told through other people’s perspectives, such as her husband, son, a distant friend, and many others. It is one of the most unique storytelling experiences I have ever experienced.
The book is made up of numerous short stories, where Olive, a middle-aged woman who has a very extreme personality, is always present in. Her involvement in the story could be as little as a mention, or as involved as the wife or mother of a character. This one-of-a-kind novel is a must read for anyone who has not read it yet.
An interesting part of this book to me was the appeal of Olive’s character. At the beginning, I found myself hating her, as she seemed selfish, sarcastic, and downright awful to her husband, Henry. However, once more perspectives washed in and I gathered more knowledge on who she is, Olive became one of the most well-rounded characters I remember reading. It is rare to find an author like Strout who can make such a realistic character, bringing the “bag of bones” to life. Oftentimes, characters will be too heroic or too evil to even consider them as realistic. Olive Kitteridge, as well as most of the characters in this book, seem like real people, with their mistakes, hardships, likes, dislikes, and personality.
A downside to this book, if it can be considered a downside, is the amount of perspectives the book takes on. There are a total of 13 individual stories in this book, and sometimes the number of different characters that the book shifts the lens to can be overwhelming. However, in my opinion, the different point-of-views the story has is what makes it so unique and interesting, especially when they all tie in to the core of who Olive Kitteridge is.
“Reams and Reels,” written by Cade Smucker, dives into the intersection between books and movies. Reviewing books one week and movies the next, Sumcker analyzes the newest works of fiction on the market, telling you which are worth your time, and which are not.