Title: Olive Kitteridge
Author: Elizabeth Strout
At first, this book felt like a series of loosely-connected short stories, either directly or indirectly related to Olive Kitteridge, a teacher living in a small town in coastal Maine. After four or five stories, which progress in roughly chronological fashion, the reader starts to get a picture of Olive, who is pretty darn unlikeable. She cuts a sleeve off her new daughter-in-law's sweater, just to mess with her mind. She doesn't cherish her husband like she should. She's prickly. Yet, over the fifteen or twenty stories, I grew to love Olive, even when I didn't like her. She felt more self-actualized at the end of the book too-- like she realized some of what she'd missed out on at other parts in her life and wanted to make things better. Weeks later, I'm still thinking about Olive and the other characters in the book, which I guess is a mark of a pretty darn good story.