Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Summary: Ambitious, but never seeming so, Kent Haruf reveals a whole community as he interweaves the stories of a pregnant high school girl, a lonely teacher, a pair of boys abandoned by their mother, and a couple crusty bachelor farmers. From simple elements, Haruf achieves a novel of wisdom and grace - a narrative that builds in strength and feeling until, as in a choral chant, the voices in the book surround, transport, and lift the reader off the ground.
Summary from book, Cover Photo from

My Review: This is one of those books that I finished questioning rather or not I liked it. There are many horrific events in this novel that I didn't enjoy reading, yet it is written in such a way that you are compelled to read more. And in continuing the story you are rewarded with some lovely acts of humanity.

The overall theme of this book was finding one's self. There are two children and a teen that, through events mostly out of their control, are forced to grow up quickly, and in doing so find their true identities. The majority of adults in this story are put into scenarios where they must redefined who they truly are. The main characters in this book are rather likable. I especially loved the quirky old farm brothers. The villains, however, have no redeemable traits.

The author's simple writing style is quite inviting and he is able to almost seamlessly merge several different story lines. However his lack of quotation marks around the dialog drove me crazy and I didn't understand the meaning behind it. I also feel the story ended rather abruptly, leaving me unsatisfied. There is a followup book, "Eventide", that I will probably be checking out, though I can't say I am in a terrible rush to do so.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars, a better than average book but not at the top of my list. (Definitely rated for a mature audience)

If I could sum this book up in one phrase it would be: A simple, mostly pleasant, ride on a dusty, bumpy dirt road.

1 comment:

MindySue said...

It's really difficult to read books like that...that leave you unfulfilled. Especially if you love them most of the way and then the ending lets you down or isn't what you expected. I think those are the most frustrating things to read.


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