Olive Kitteridge

Translated from: Olive Kitteridge
Author: Elizabeth Strout
Translator: Novieta Christina
Publisher: Penerbit ANDI, 2011
366 pages

What's the meaning of getting older? What life does seem in the eyes of old people? Is it still fascinating? Or nothing but suffering? The author delivered her empathy about the old people feeling, thoughts and their life in general in this well written book. It won 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

This book is unique. It is a collection of stories that covers 13 connected short stories about a woman, a retired Math teacher, named Olive Kitteridge and her family and friends in a small town in Maine. Olive is not a 'nice' person in fact she's one of the miserable character in the book. She's sometimes mean, impatient, immature, cynical that leads her to many difficulties in building relationship with others. But somehow in a weird way you eventually start to like her. Just like that.

Since Olive had been living in the town for quite long time, she knew almost everyone there. Here it goes, we will read 13 different stories with different characters, problems and how they handle it. Each story either centers around or at least mentions Olive. Most of the characters are troubled, damaged and suffer in silence. The author does a great job intimating each character's struggle and pain. Some people might consider this book depressing. Whilst in my opinion this book has brought me a new perspective about how old people actually think about their kids, son-in-law/daughter-in-law, neighbours, ex-colleagues and what kinds of relationships they need. The author is a master of revealing the many onion-like layers of interpersonal relationships.

Like any other great book, this book slightly shifts the way in which I look at the world and other people -- particularly my parents and parents-in-law --and perhaps most importantly, myself. Never thought that old people world is not as simple as we thought. It's sometimes complicated, awkward, funny and it turns out that their love stories also as sweet as young people do.