Olive, Again Book Review

Cynicism is one of the most pressing challenges that the world is grappling with today. People have simply lost faith in fellow humans. It is not surprising that more and more individuals are becoming cynic. The world is indeed cruel and brutal and cynicism offers some protection against harsh realities. However, for those who have had enough of cynicism and wish to trust again, Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout offers refreshing insights that will renew their faith in mankind. Any review of this book finds that it is immensely relevant, and tremendously timely.

To derive the most insight and benefit from the Olive, Again book, it helps when readers are familiar with some of Strout’s other works. In particular, it is highly recommended that individuals should begin by reading Olive Kitteridge. While Olive, Again stands on its own, it builds on the plot in Oliver Kitteridge. More importantly, by reading other books that Strout has authored, individuals will be better prepared for the real yet comforting truths that she shares in Olive, Again.

Among the key themes that Strout addresses in Olive, Again is the pain of death and bereavement. Through the character of Olive, a widow who is mourning the death of her husband shows how humans struggle to trust and love again. Despite her best efforts, Olive is unable to renew her faith in people. However, through an encounter with Jack Kennison, Olive soon recognizes that healing happens when individuals open up and allow others in. It is clear that Strout aimed to inspire readers to have faith and to recognize that trust holds the key to healing.

Another issue that Olive, Again tackles is the need for individuals to abandon their preconceived nations and approach others with open minds. Notions tend to imprison one’s spirit and color their judgment. On the other hand, when individuals trust and believe, they provide themselves with opportunities to be surprised and pleased with the warmth and beauty that humans possess. Olive was able to find true and lasting peace after she opened up to Jack. There is no question that Strout sought to inspire and motivate readers to be more open-minded.

While reading the Olive, Again book, it is nearly impossible to miss the parallels between the experiences of some of the characters and the issues that people face today. How parents deal with discoveries that their children are LGBT is among these issues. Relying on the character of Jack, Strout challenges readers to recognize that it is difficult for parents of LGBT children to accept and embrace their children. However, Strout also makes it clear that parents can only find peace when they love their children unconditionally. 

In addition to shedding light on the experiences of LGBT children who struggle to find acceptance, Olive, Again also confronts the question of class divide. This divide is represented by Olive and Jack, two of the books most central characters who are from different socioeconomic backgrounds. These characters help Strout to successfully convey her message that class divides hamper human interactions. To address these divides, Strout advises her readers to approach others without giving any regard to their social background.

Olive, Again is Strout’s way of celebrating the remarkable yet complex human spirit. Strout portrays Olive is a loud woman who does not recognize personal boundaries. However, she also makes it clear to her readers that Olive is remarkably kind and warm. The juxtapositioning of the two traits shows that humans are multidimensional. It is for this reason that individuals need to keep open minds. Such minds allow them to appreciate the full length and fabric of the human spirit.

It must be that as she wrote Olive, Again Elizabeth Strout sought to guide individuals who are dealing with losses and pains. In particular, Strout offers comfort to those with families who are incarcerated. The book’s characters allow such individuals to understand that others have experienced and overcome the same pain and sense of loss that they feel. More importantly, Strout assures those struggling with loss that by sharing their pain with others, they create opportunities for true healing. 

For the most part, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive, Again adopts a serious and solemn tone. However, there are light moments that are scattered across the book. Among these moments is the tense and strained relationship between a couple that has not engaged in any meaningful conversation for decades. This chapter causes readers to wonder what would cause a married couple to refuse to speak with one another for that many years. The lightness of this moment sheds light on the fact that marriage can be arduous and that for relationships to succeed, individuals must to tolerant and forgiving.

Young people who are struggling to maintain contact with their aging parents will find Strout’s book particularly insightful. This book presents aging as a frightening experience. As they feel abandoned, older adults grapple with crippling loneliness and a sense of regret. It can be guaranteed that after reading the book, young readers will commit greater effort to their relationships with aging parents and grandparents. They will recognize that they need to do more to ease the suffering of older adults and help them to transition peacefully into old age.

Above, it has been stated that Strout’s book sheds light on the hardships that the elderly grapple with. By addressing these challenges, the book presents implications for policy. It challenges policymakers and other stakeholders involved in the care of older adults to invest in such initiatives as assisted living. Among other things, older adults lose their independence and are unable to perform tasks that others find simple. Olive, Again can guide policymakers in delivering interventions that improve the experiences of older adults.

Any Olive, Again summary is not complete if it does not include a discussion on the resilience of humans. This is a key theme in the book. Strout depicts all the characters in the book as inspiringly resilient. They have endured loss and suffered untold hardship. Despite these struggles, the characters remain hopeful and strong. These characters are a reflection of many individuals who have braved hardships and understand that challenges build character. For individuals seeking to become more resilient, Olive, Again can be an essential resource. 

Perhaps the most important lesson that Olive, Again offers readers is the importance of empathy. Strout reminds her readers to take a deep and genuine interest in the lives of others. As they do this, readers are able to empathize and help to relieve human suffering. There is no doubt that Strout’s primary goal was to help her readers to develop basic competencies that enable them to derive the greatest joy from their experiences. This book would undoubtedly benefit all those in the search for tools for self-improvement.

In closing, Olive, Again is not perfect and it is not trying to be. Instead, it is murky, complicated, and often ugly. These same attributes are found in the humane experience. What makes human life interesting and exciting is that it presents challenges and provides opportunities for growth. Using fictitious characters, Strout manages to convey immensely powerful messages. These messages are so potent that they could have real and significant impacts on the lives of readers.