Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Staff Pick

Olive, Again (Random House, $27) reprises the irrepressible protagonist of Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, but no prior experience is necessary to savor this delightful
and moving novel. Described as “difficult,” even “formidable,” Olive, a retired seventh-grade math teacher, is blunt to a fault—she’s a woman who “thinks everything is crap.” Well, yes and no. “Anything could be true with Olive,” someone notes, and as Strout shows in thirteen interlocking stories, Olive is also needy, regretful, and always surprising. Nor, despite her considerable reputation, does she always steal the show. Strout gives her a strong supporting cast, and we meet a first-time mother who goes into labor at a friend’s baby shower; an eighth-grader whose difficult adolescence fits eerily into the drama playing out in the home of the elderly couple she cleans for; a mediocre student who becomes the U.S. Poet Laureate; and two brothers from Strout’s 2013 The Burgess Boys, still coming to grips with the childhood accident that killed their father. Presented with deep compassion, each of these characters is fully realized, as is Crosby, Maine, where, through its neighborhoods, shops, and old age home, Strout shows the limits of the adage that everyone knows each other in a small town. Rather, “there are always secrets.” Ranging from unfaithfulness to abuse, these boil down to “the essential loneliness of people,” which not even Olive is immune to.

Olive, Again: A Novel By Elizabeth Strout Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812996548
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Random House - October 15th, 2019