I heard about this because of the TV show that has been made starring Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins. I watched the show first and loved it and then bought the book to read. This book won the Pulitzer prize for fiction, which meant that I knew it was going to be a good read.
Olive Kitteridge is structured like loosely connected short stories about the townspeople in Maine. While most of the stories are in Olive's point of view, there are also quite a few that are from other townspeople with Olive featuring either as a cameo or as a motif.
The book spans 25 years of Olive's life and while the argument could be made that Olive and her life are quite ordinary on the one hand: she is a school teacher, gets married, has a child, etc, her life and Olive herself are also extraordinary. She is a woman who isn't afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, who feels extraordinary passion, and who is a keen observer of life, including her own.
This book is beautiful for so many reasons: the writing, the fact that it deals with such extraordinary themes, its depiction of a strong and interesting female character, but mostly because it celebrates ordinary life. Reading it made me realise that just the act of living, making connections with people, and ruminating on the meaning of life is a privilege.
My all time favourite last line is from this book. "It baffled her, the world. She did not want to leave it yet."
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Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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