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reading elizabeth strout’s olive kitteridge

For my fiction writing class this semester, I selected the 2009 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel in stories Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I hadn’t read it prior to the class (as I sometimes like to read a book for the first time along with my students), but I quickly found myself immersed in the lives of the people in Crosby, Maine, each and every one touched by one oft-misunderstood woman Olive Kitteridge; Olive is a large, loud, generally abrasive women who upon first meeting is sure to rub you the wrong way with her incisive candor. After the first chapter, told from her husband’s point of view, I found little to like about Mrs. Kitteridge. However, once I was privy to her point of view, things began to change (as might be expected). Like in life, if we are given the chance (or take the chance) to see through another person’s eyes, we just might identify with that person–or at least be slower to judge. By that second story, I empathized with Olive. Clearly Strout had yet to reveal all there was to know about her heroine. Before long, I truly admired Olive for her strength, her unflinching honesty, her quiet compassion, and her wisdom. I know that I won’t soon forget her. I highly recommend this book.

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