The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

BENEDICTION (Plainsong #3) By Kent Haruf⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publisher:  Knopf
Release Date: 2013
Pages:  258
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Format:  Hardcover

Book Description: 
When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife must work together, along with their daughter, to make his final days as comfortable as possible, despite the bitter absence of their estranged son. Next door, a young girl moves in with her grandmother and contends with the memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. A newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and son, and soon faces the disdain of his congregation when he offers more than they are used to getting on Sunday mornings. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do all they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.

Wanda's Thoughts: 
This is good old-fashioned story telling at its best and certainly realistic fiction. Several stories are woven together with characters that all have problems of their own, and each will attach themselves to your heart. The characters are ordinary people, but all unique in their own way.

The story comes alive and unfolds in the small town of Holt and I truly felt that I was there.

Dad Lewis has just learned he has just a few short weeks to live.

Mary – Dad’s wife is such a caring person who tries to make his last few weeks meaningful as she reflects on the years gone by.

Lorraine is the daughter who is very devoted to her parents, but with problems of her own. She is in a relationship with Richard – a relationship that Dad does not approve.

Alice is the 8 year-old who will just warm your heart, and lives with her grandmother, Berta May. They are next-door neighbors to Dad and Mary Lewis.

Reverend Lyle is not an ordinary preacher. He is new in town with a wife who doesn’t support him, and a son with deep problems.

Willa and Alene Johnson are my favorite characters. They are longtime residents of Holt County and members of the church. Alene is a 60 year-old retired teacher and unmarried. She is the daughter of Willa and an interesting part of the storyline.

Benediction is beautiful, comforting, and poignant. Included are both sadness and happiness as the author demonstrates how he knows the human heart. I am amazed at the simplicity of the dialogue, and yet Haruf delivers so much impact. He certainly knows how to evoke the emotions.

This is my first time reading a novel by Kent Haruf and I’ve developed a deep respect for this late author and his writing skills. I simply loved this book and I highly recommend it. 5 stars.

About the Author:  Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado, a hospital in Arizona, a library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, and universities in Nebraska and Illinois.

Haruf is the author of Plainsong, which received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Maria Thomas Award in Fiction, and The New Yorker Book Award. Plainsong was also a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award. His novel, The Tie That Binds, received a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the Pen/Hemingway Foundation. In 2006, Haruf was awarded the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.

All of his novels are set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. Holt is loosely based on Yuma, Colorado, an early residence of Haruf in the 1980s.

Haruf lived with his wife, Cathy, in Salida, Colorado, with their three daughters. He died of cancer on November 30, 2014.