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Olive Kitteridge

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

I appreciated two important facts after reading this book: reader expectations are important, and just because a book is award-winning does not automatically make it the next best read for everyone. Now, if I'm being truthful, I already knew both of these things before opening the front cover, but this offering reaffirmed that notion.

This book was easy-ish to read because each chapter is a self-contained short story. Some characters make duplicate appearances, and the main character, Olive, makes her presence known (in some form or another) in everyone. In marches the reader expectation part. While I had no reason to assume this would be a novel, it certainly wasn't, and it jaded my adoption of it from the start. After completing the first chapter, I wanted more. I longed for continuity, to dive deeper. But instead, the reader is forced to shift gears and move in a different direction.

And for me, even inside the context of a single short story, some of the dialogue and interactions felt choppy and rushed, instead of digging beneath the surface and mining those real nuggets of emotional wisdom.

To the author's credit, there were moments of realization and literary style that felt powerfully raw and authentic. And some of the things I would have liked to understand and know more about each of the characters were addressed in later chapters. However, both were achieved in a discontinuous manner that didn't mesh with my reader mind.

Perhaps that's part of the message in this book. And it's only while writing this review that I stumbled upon another important thought. We march through life, one second after the next, but what happens to us and how we process it is anything but linear.

Even though this book won't rank high on my list of favorites, there's always something new to learn between the covers of each book when we choose to look for it. And I appreciate that Olive Kitteridge has shared her perspective on life so that I might understand mine a bit better.

Dave’s Rating: ☕️☕️


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