Sunday, July 23, 2017

PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf

This is one of those novels about a small town, in the vein of Jan Karon or Adriana Trigiani, but oh so much better.  We have a pregnant teenager whose mother has tossed her out of the house, a high school bully, two teachers trying to do the right thing, and two sets of brothers who don’t talk much.  One set of brothers is a pair of aging bachelors who raise cattle and take in the pregnant girl, at the request of teacher Maggie Jones, whose elderly father is too demented to be in the same house as the teenager.  The other brothers, age 9 and 10, are the sons of another teacher, Tom Guthrie, whose wife is depressed and soon moves out.  So we have two basically motherless boys, and two kindly men who have now gained sort of a daughter.  Both sets of brothers are naïve in their own ways, especially in matters related to women, sometimes resulting in some very funny interactions.  The adage that it takes a village to raise a child is very evident here, and sometimes makeshift families of thrown together strangers work out exceedingly well.  The book is not sugary sweet, as all of the characters make their fair share of mistakes, and there are a couple of nasty villains.  To say that this is a satisfying read is an understatement.  The only downside is the lack of complete closure at the end, but there are two sequels.  Sign me up!

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