GIFTED / When you’re a book review you sometimes come across books you don’t like, even if you wanted to. This happened to me with Olive, Again, a book I wanted to read for a couple of months before getting a chance to.
This book was published on October 15th by Penguin Random House, and it has 304 pages.
I want to thank the team from Penguin Random House Global for sending me an e-galley of this novel (in an exchange for an honest review).
About the book:
FROM GOODREADS / Prickly, wry, resistant to change yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic, Olive Kitteridge is “a compelling life force” (San Francisco Chronicle). The New Yorker has said that Elizabeth Strout “animates the ordinary with an astonishing force,” and she has never done so more clearly than in these pages, where the iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.
Once again I didn’t do my homework, and went into Olive, Again without knowing it was a sequel to already published book called Olive Kitteridge.
Nevertheless, this book can be read on it’s own.
However, if I read it’s predecessor, I would just skip this one for sure.
I’m not saying this is a bad book, because, judging by other readers’ and critics’ reviews, it is a really, really good book, but it wasn’t for me.
I just couldn’t see it’s greatness, I guess.
I think that the main reason why I couldn’t connect with the story was that the main character, Olive, is so much older then me.
This is the thing I realized while reading this novel: I just can’t enjoy the story, connect with it if the characters are so much older then me (we talk here about 70+ years old characters, and even 80+ as the story progressed).
Therefore, thanks to this piece of literature, I made a decision not to read books featuring old main characters any more (at least at this period of my life).
The second issue I had with Olive was that I didn’t like her as a character at all. I know she is described as honest, outright and ruthless, but to me, she often came as just rude.
I just didn’t like her energy and I could not care for her or what was going on in her life, and it especially showed as I was further into the story.
I caught myself scanning the last 50 pages of the story because I just wanted to be finished with it.
It is a shame, I do know, but it is what it is!
Also, when it comes to writing style my expectations were pretty high because this novel is labelled as literary fiction, which stands for beautiful prose.
Unfortunately, I was very disappointed because it read as simple general fiction.
Still, I have to note that the book covers some pretty important things and some of the stories that involved other characters were interesting.
On the other hand, there were some situations that made me feel uncomfortable (like when Olive said that it was stupid that an adult man cries aloud, and even if he’s Jewish, it’s still stupid).
In the end I’ll just repeat that Olive, Again is very loved book and I am aware that many people won’t agree with my opinion.
As for me, I won’t be reading Elizabeth Strout’s other work because I don’t think I would enjoy it at this stage of my life.