Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review: "Our Souls at Night" by Kent Haruf

Few authors can captivate with simple, straightforward, moving storytelling as well as Kent Haruf did. I've read every one of his novels, and each time I finished one, I was amazed by the power of his writing and the impact his characters had. I definitely felt the same way upon finishing his last novel, Our Souls at Night. In less than 200 pages, Haruf made me think and made me feel.

In this book, Haruf returned to the small town of Holt, Colorado, where his novel Plainsong took place. One day, 70-year-old widow Addie Moore goes to visit her widowed neighbor, Louis Waters. The two have always known each other, but were never friends. But that doesn't stop Addie from asking Louis a difficult question: would he be willing to come over to her house one night and sleep in her bed, and perhaps talk?

The idea throws Louis for a bit of a loop, but ultimately his curiosity and his desire for companionship wins out. It isn't long before the two develop a strong friendship, perhaps tinged with love and a gratitude for the sort of second chance each is giving the other. Of course, the town is ablaze with gossip about the two, despite the fact that both are widowed and in their 70s. And it isn't long before Louis' daughter and Addie's son try and convince their parents that this type of thing just isn't done, no matter what kind of comfort they bring to each other.

"But that's the main point of this being a good time. Getting to know somebody well at this age. And finding out you like her and discovering you're not just all dried up after all."

Louis and Addie spend their nights talking about their lives—their happy and sad moments, their regrets, their unfulfilled wishes. They discuss their relationships with their late spouses and their children. They talk about life. But most of all, they revel in each other's company, and they don't care what their fellow townspeople have to say about their relationship. And when Addie's grandson comes to stay with her for the summer, she sees Louis in a different light, and he gets the opportunity to be the father he wished he could have been to his own daughter.

I thought this was such a beautiful book, hopeful and even a little emotional. I honestly didn't understand everyone's objections to Louis and Addie's relationship, given their age and the fact that they were both widowed, and people's reactions, particularly Addie's son's, were the only thing that bothered me about this story. Louis and Addie are such wonderful characters and their story proves that sometimes it's worth taking a risk in order to find friendship and love.

I wasn't aware that Haruf died at the end of 2014, and that discovery saddens me a great deal. I'd encourage you to pick up Our Souls at Night as well as all of his other novels, and get a glimpse of his tremendous talent. The literary world lost an artist, but his beautiful work will live on, lucky for us.

No comments:

Post a Comment