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4.0 131
by Kent Haruf

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National Book Award Finalist

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.

In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared,


National Book Award Finalist

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver.

In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known. From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together—their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely . . . it has the power to exalt the reader." --The New York Times Book Review

"Resonant and meaningful . . . . A song of praise in honor of the lives it chronicles [and] a story about people's ability to adapt and redeem themselves, to heal the wounds of isolation by moving, gropingly and imperfectly, toward community." --Richard Tillinghast, The Washington Post Book World

"A compelling and compassionate novel. . . . [With] his sheer assurance as a storyteller, [Mr. Haruf] has conjured up an entire community, and ineluctably immersed the reader in its dramas." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"A work as flawlessly unified as a short story by Poe or Chekhov." --Jon Hassler, Chicago Tribune

"Haunting, virtuosic, inimitable." --Sarah Saffian, San Francisco Chronicle

"If the novelist invents a world, then Mr. Haruf has shaped a place of enormous goodness... The story itself--spare, unsentimental, rooted in action--honors the values of the community it describes." --Lisa Michaels,

"A moving look at our capacity for both pointless cruelty and simple decency, our ability to walk out of the wreckage of one family and build a stronger one where that one used to stand." --Jeff Giles, Newsweek

"A work as flawlessly unified as a short story by Poe or Chekhov." --Jon Hassler, Chicago Tribune

Critically acclaimed author Kent Haruf, the recipient of a PEN/Hemingway special citation and a Whiting Award for his debut novel, The Tie That Binds, follows with the intensely affecting story of family, tribulation, and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver. In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher struggles to raise his two sons alone; a pregnant teenager, deserted by her older boyfriend, is cast out of her mother's house; two elderly brothers, lifelong bachelors, farm their declining family homestead. Despite differences of place and station in life, Haruf's unforgettable characters come together to survive, with their confusion, dignity, and humor intact and resonant.
Verlyn Klinkenborg
Haruf has made a novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt the reader...At times, a sentence almost suggests Flannery O'Connor...But the prose and the outlook are always Haruf's own.
NY Times Book Review
Michiko Kakutani
...[a plainspoken and moving novel] that weaves together the voices of half a dozen people living in a small Colorado town and turns their overlapping stories into a powerful portrait of a community...
New York Times
Joshua Klein
Kent Haruf's third novel Plainsong-- already been nominated for the National Book Award--indicates just how much the novel has resonated with readers. Haruf himself must be surprised, but not that surprised: A professor at Southern Illinois University and an honest-to-goodness son of a preacher, Haruf is so adept at capturing the heart of an innocent side of America that it's hard to believe anyone wouldn't be affected by his work. Plainsong is set in Holt, Colorado, a rural community well outside Denver; the setting is timeless, with only the occasional, fleeting reference to VCRs or pop culture indicating that the book takes place closer to "now" than "then." Tom Guthrie is a high-school teacher left raising two young sons after his depressed and disappointed wife moves to the city. His children bake cookies, ride horses, and run a paper route, but at the same time they almost consciously seek out a cool, hardened, cowboy sense of maturity.

Meanwhile, another teacher helps a pregnant teen disowned by her mother find love and acceptance in two hilariously well-intentioned elderly brothers. The two tentatively take the girl on as a boarder on their cattle farm even though they barely know how to communicate with anyone but each other. These seven characters form the core of Plainsong, which switches vantages from chapter to chapter like a more direct Faulkner, though the prose is no less poetic and evocative. Through this device, Haruf illustrates how relationships are formed and what makes them last, how responsibility and accountability make people good, and how cooperation can make a small town strong in times of conflict. A fast, encouraging, enlightening read, Plainsong is beautiful, real, and wise: a true great American novel.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the same way that the plains define the American landscape, small-town life in the heartlands is a quintessentially American experience. Holt, Colo., a tiny prairie community near Denver, is both the setting for and the psychological matrix of Haruf's beautifully executed new novel. Alternating chapters focus on eight compassionately imagined characters whose lives undergo radical change during the course of one year. High school teacher Tom Guthrie's depressed wife moves out of their house, leaving him to care for their young sons. Ike, 10, and Bobby, nine, are polite, sensitive boys who mature as they observe the puzzling behavior of adults they love. At school, Guthrie must deal with a vicious student bully whose violent behavior eventually menaces Ike and Bobby, in a scene that will leave readers with palpitating hearts. Meanwhile, pregnant teenager Victoria Roubideaux, evicted by her mother, seeks help from kindhearted, pragmatic teacher Maggie Jones, who convinces the elderly McPheron brothers, Raymond and Harold, to let Victoria live with them in their old farmhouse. After many decades of bachelor existence, these gruff, unpolished cattle farmers must relearn the art of conversation when Victoria enters their lives. The touching humor of their awkward interaction endows the story with a heartwarming dimensionality. Haruf's (The Tie That Binds) descriptions of rural existence are a richly nuanced mixture of stark details and poetic evocations of the natural world. Weather and landscape are integral to tone and mood, serving as backdrop to every scene. His plain, Hemingwayesque prose takes flight in lyrical descriptions of sunsets and birdsong, and condenses to the matter-of-fact in describing the routines of animal husbandry. In one scene, a rancher's ungloved hand repeatedly reaches though fecal matter to check cows for pregnancy; in another, readers follow the step-by-step procedure of an autopsy on a horse. Walking a tightrope of restrained design, Haruf steers clear of sentimentality and melodrama while constructing a taut narrative in which revelations of character and rising emotional tensions are held in perfect balance. This is a compelling story of grief, bereavement, loneliness and anger, but also of kindness, benevolence, love and the making of a strange new family. In depicting the stalwart courage of decent, troubled people going on with their lives, Haruf's quietly eloquent account illumines the possibilities of grace. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Set in a small Colorado town, this novel centers on townspeople whose lives interconnect. The chapters alternate among the stories of these ordinary people. Tom Guthrie is a high school teacher who is left to raise his two sons, Ike and Bobby, when their mother descends into mental illness. At the same time, Tom is having trouble at school with a violent student. Victoria is a pregnant teenager whose mother has thrown her out of the house. The two elderly McPheron brothers are bachelors who live their solitary lives on their land. Maggie, another teacher at Guthrie's school, arranges for Victoria to live with the McPheron brothers, whose social skills are somewhat lacking but who try in their awkward ways to make Victoria feel at home. Although all the characters' troubles and worries are captivating, it is Victoria's problem that is most likely to engage teen readers. Handled by a lesser writer, some of these plots would be predictable, but Haruf's prose transcends any formula. The writing is simple and understated, with no quotation marks around the dialogue. The novel has a timeless quality to it. This gentle book is a beautiful read, appropriate for high school collections and public library young adult collections. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 1999, Random House, 301p, $24. Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: Alice F. Stern

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

To quote KLIATT's July 2000 review of the Recorded Books audiobook edition: There's Guthrie, a high school history teacher whose wife has left him and their two young sons. There's Victoria Roubideaux, a homeless, pregnant teen. There's Harold and Raymond McPheron, two elderly bachelor farmers. These and a handful of minor characters in the rural outpost of Holt, Colorado become connected throughout this elegant novel in strange and wondrous ways. They inspire us with their goodness and generosity as we identify with their humanity and failings. Haruf manages to avoid sentimentality, maintaining a sense of humor and toughness that assures us things will work out somehow, no matter how bleak. Some of his bleaker realism, however, is unsuitable for younger listeners. (Editor's note: this is a National Book Award finalist.) KLIATT Codes: A*—Exceptional book, recommended for advanced students, and adults. 1999, Random House/Vintage, 302p, 21cm, 99-15606, $13.00. Ages 17 to adult. Reviewer: Chuck Trapkus; Rock Island, IL, November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
Library Journal
Two bachelor farmer brothers, a pregnant high school girl, two young brothers, and two devoted high school teachers--this is the interesting group of people, some related by blood but most not, featured in the award-winning Haruf's touching new novel. Set in the plains of Colorado, east of Denver, the novel comprises several story lines that flow into one. Tom Guthrie, a high school history teacher, is having problems with his wife and with an unruly student at school--problems that affect his young sons, Ike and Bob, as well. Meanwhile, the pregnant Victoria Roubideaux has been abandoned by her family. With the assistance of another teacher, Maggie Jones, she finds refuge with the McPheron brothers--who seem to know more about cows than people. Lyrical and well crafted, the tight narrative about how families can be made between folks who are not necessarily blood relatives makes for enjoyable reading. Highly recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/99.]--Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
YA-This saga of seven residents of Holt, CO, details the problems they face and how they come together to solve them. Their divergent stories begin with Tom Guthrie, a high school teacher whose wife suffers a breakdown and abandons him and their two young sons. The Guthrie boys are often on their own while their stressed-out father struggles to keep the family together. Next are Victoria Roubideaux, 17 years old, alone, and pregnant; and Harold and Raymond McPheron, two elderly brothers who know nothing about "real life" outside their farm. It is Maggie Jones, Tom's colleague, who provides him with solace and brings resolution to these many dilemmas. Maggie talks the McPheron brothers into taking the pregnant teenager in, even though they have some reservations about this arrangement. Victoria and the two lonely men adjust to one another and form a family unit that none of them has known before. The characters tell their stories in alternating chapters. All of them are struggling but it is their caring, kindness, and forgiving spirits that help them support one another. There is a keen sense of place here-a place where family and community matter. YAs can learn from this novel about nontraditional families, about small towns where everybody knows everybody else's business, and about the power of love.-Carol Clark, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
A stirring meditation on the true nature and necessity of the family. Among the several damaged families in this beautifully cadenced and understated tale is that of Tom Guthrie, a high-school history teacher in small Holt, Colorado, who's left to raise his two young sons, Ike and Bobby, alone when his troubled wife first withdraws from them and then, without explanation, abandons them altogether. Victoria Roubideaux, a high-school senior, is thrown out of her house when her mother discovers she's pregnant. Harold and Raymond McPheron, two aging but self-reliant cattle ranchers, are haunted by their imaginings of what they may have missed in life by electing never to get married, never to strike out on their own. Haruf (Where You Once Belonged, 1989, etc.) believably draws these various incomplete or troubled figures together. Victoria, pretty, insecure, uncertain of her own worth, has allowed herself to be seduced by a weak, spoiled lout who quickly disappears. When her bitter mother locks her out, she turns to Maggie Jones, a compassionate teacher and a neighbor, for help. Maggie places Victoria with the McPheron brothers, an arrangement that Guthrie, a friend of both Maggie and the McPherons, supports. Some of Haruf's best passages trace with precision and delicacy the ways in which, gradually, the gentle, the lonely brothers and Victoria begin to adapt to each other and then, over the course of Victoria's pregnancy, to form a resilient family unit. Harold and Raymond's growing affection for Victoria gives her a sense of self-worth, which proves crucial when her vanished (and abusive) boyfriend, comes briefly back into her life. Haruf is equally good at catching the ways inwhich Tom and his sons must quietly struggle to deal with their differing feelings of loss, guilt, and abandonment. Everyone is struggling here, and it's their decency, and their determination to care for one another, Haruf suggests, that gets them through. A touching work, as honest and precise as the McPheron brothers themselves.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Contemporaries Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

Here was this man Tom Guthrie in Holt standing at the back window in the kitchen of his house smoking cigarettes and looking out over the back lot where the sun was just coming up. When the sun reached the top of the windmill, for a while he watched what it was doing, that increased reddening of sunrise along the steel blades and the tail vane above the wooden platform. After a time he put out the cigarette and went upstairs and walked past the closed door behind which she lay in bed in the darkened guest room sleeping or not and went down the hall to the glassy room over the kitchen where the two boys were.

The room was an old sleeping porch with uncurtained windows on three sides, airy-looking and open, with a pinewood floor. Across the way they were still asleep, together in the same bed under the north windows, cuddled up, although it was still early fall and not yet cold. They had been sleeping in the same bed for the past month and now the older boy had one hand stretched above his brother's head as if he hoped to shove something away and thereby save them both. They were nine and ten, with dark brown hair and unmarked faces, and cheeks that were still as pure and dear as a girl's.

Outside the house the wind came up suddenly out of the west and the tail vane turned with it and the blades of the windmill spun in a red whir, then the wind died down and the blades slowed and stopped.

You boys better come on, Guthrie said.

He watched their faces, standing at the foot of the bed in his bathrobe. A tall man with thinning black hair, wearing glasses. The older boy drew back his hand and they settled deeper under the cover. One of them sighed comfortably.



Come on now.

We are.

You too, Bobby.

He looked out the window. The sun was higher, the light beginning to slide down the ladder of the windmill, brightening it, making rungs of rose-gold.

When he turned again to the bed he saw by the change in their faces that they were awake now. He went out into the hall again past the closed door and on into the bathroom and shaved and rinsed his face and went back to the bedroom at the front of the house whose high windows overlooked Railroad Street and brought out shirt and pants from the closet and laid them out on the bed and took off his robe and got dressed. When he returned to the hallway he could hear them talking in their room, their voices thin and clear, already discussing something, first one then the other, intermittent, the early morning matter-of-fact voices of little boys out of the presence of adults. He went downstairs.

Ten minutes later when they entered the kitchen he was standing at the gas stove stirring eggs in a black cast-iron skillet. He turned to look at them. They sat down at the wood table by the window.

Didn't you boys hear the train this morning?

Yes, Ike said.

You should have gotten up then.

Well, Bobby said. We were tired.

That's because you don't go to bed at night.

We go to bed.

But you don't go to sleep. I can hear you back there talking and fooling around.

They watched their father out of identical blue eyes. Though there was a year between them they might have been twins. They'd put on blue jeans and flannel shirts and their dark hair was uncombed and fallen identically over their unmarked foreheads. They sat waiting for breakfast and appeared to be only half awake.

Guthrie brought two thick crockery plates of steaming eggs and buttered toast to the table and set them down and the boys spread jelly on the toast and began to eat at once, automatically, chewing, leaning forward over their plates. He carried two glasses of milk to the table.

He stood over the table watching them eat. I have to go to school early this morning, he said. I'll be leaving in a minute.

Aren't you going to eat breakfast with us? Ike said. He stopped chewing momentarily and looked up.

I can't this morning. He recrossed the room and set the skillet in the sink and ran water into it.

Why do you have to go to school so early?

I have to see Lloyd Crowder about somebody.

Who is it?

A boy in American history.

What'd he do? Bobby said. Look off somebody's paper?

Not yet. I don't doubt that'll be next, the way he's going.

Ike picked at something in his eggs and put it at the rim of his plate. He looked up again. But Dad, he said.


Isn't Mother coming down today either?

I don't know, Guthrie said. I can't say what she'll do. But you shouldn't worry. Try not to. It'll be all right. It doesn't have anything to do with you.

He looked at them closely. They had stopped eating altogether and were staring out the window toward the barn and corral where the two horses were.

You better go on, he said. By the time you get done with your papers you'll be late for school.

He went upstairs once more. In the bedroom he removed a sweater from the chest of drawers and put it on and went down the hall and stopped in front of the closed door. He stood listening but there was no sound from inside. When he stepped into the room it was almost dark, with a feeling of being hushed and forbidding as in the sanctuary of an empty church after the funeral of a woman who had died too soon, a sudden impression of static air and unnatural quiet. The shades on the two windows were drawn down completely to the sill. He stood looking at her. Ella. Who lay in the bed with her eyes closed. He could just make out her face in the halflight, her face as pale as schoolhouse chalk and her fair hair massed and untended, fallen over her cheeks and thin neck, hiding that much of her. Looking at her, he couldn't say if she was asleep or not, but he believed she was not. He believed she was only waiting to hear what he had come in for, and then for him to leave.

Do you want anything? he said.

She didn't bother to open her eyes. He waited. He looked around the room. She had not yet changed the chrysanthemums in the vase on the chest of drawers and there was an odor rising from the stale water in the vase. He wondered that she didn't smell it. What was she thinking about.

Then I'll see you tonight, he said.

He waited. There was still no movement.

All right, he said. He stepped back into the hall and pulled the door shut and went on down the stairs.

As soon as he was gone she turned in the bed and looked toward the door. Her eyes were intense, wide-awake, outsized. After a moment she turned again in the bed and studied the two thin pencils of light shining in at the edge of the window shade. There were fine dust motes swimming in the dimly lighted air like tiny creatures underwater, but in a moment she closed her eyes again. She folded her arm across her face and lay unmoving as though asleep.

Downstairs, passing through the house, Guthrie could hear the two boys talking in the kitchen, their voices clear, high-pitched, animated again. He stopped for a minute to listen. Something to do with school. Some boy saying this and this too and another one, the other boy, saying it wasn't any of that either because he knew better, on the gravel playground out back of school. He went outside across the porch and across the drive toward the pickup. A faded red Dodge with a deep dent in the left rear fender. The weather was clear, the day was bright and still early and the air felt fresh and sharp, and Guthrie had a brief feeling of uplift and hopefulness. He took a cigarette from his pocket and lit it and stood for a moment looking at the silver poplar tree. Then he got into the pickup and cranked it and drove out of the drive onto Railroad Street and headed up the five or six blocks toward Main. Behind him the pickup lifted a powdery plume from the road and the suspended dust shone like bright flecks of gold in the sun.

Meet the Author

KENT HARUF is the author of five previous novels (and, with the photographer Peter Brown, West of Last Chance). His honors include a Whiting Foundation Writers’ Award, the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, the Wallace Stegner Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation; he was also a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He died in November 2014, at the age of seventy-one.

Brief Biography

South Central Mountains of Colorado
Date of Birth:
February 24, 1943
Place of Birth:
Pueblo, Colorado
B.A., Nebraska Wesleyan University, 1965; M.F.A., Iowa University (Writers' Workshop), 1973

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Plainsong 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 131 reviews.
Brandi31 More than 1 year ago
A inside look at small town life is exactly what you get from Plainsong, a novel by Kent Haruf. Holt, Colorado is a typical small town with its fair share of drama and problems. This story of unlikely friends brought together by their family problems is heartwarming and will leave you wanting more. At first glance Holt might seem like the perfect small town, but at a closer look you will see that it has a set of problems. A pregnant teen that gets kicked out of her house and Tom Guthrie's wife leaving him to raise two young boys on his own a just a couple of difficulties the town experiences. Luckily there are people with big hearts to help them out. Maggie Jones offers Victoria a place to stay, but after her father and Victoria have a conflict it is clear it isn't going to work. So Raymond and Harold McPherons offer for her to go stay with them. It is a weird considering that the McPherons brothers are old farmers that had never lived with a girl except their mother who died when they were young. The relationship they form is what makes this story heartwarming and inspirational. Another odd relationship that is formed is between the Guthrie boys and an old lady that lives in an apartment. After their mother leaves them she is one of the few women that they have in their lives. She enjoys the boys company because she doesn't have any other visitors. They form a great relationship that helps the boys through the tough time in their lives. In the little town when things seem like they are falling apart it seems like there is always someone there to catch it, but can it stay that way forever? Overall, Plainsong is an excellent book that people that like to learn about small town life would love. The story is heartwarming, inspirational and can provide hope to people that are at a tough point in their life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so quiet and spare that it took a while to fall into it's rhythm. Once I did, I was up reading it to the end. It reminded me of the best short stories, those that make every word and gesture count. No action to speak of, just a small cast of characters who you know about as well as anyone else does by the end of the book. Intimate and enchanting. As soon as I finished I was out looking to see what else he'd written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had heard about Plainsong but had not read it. When I heard stories on PBS about the death of Kent Haruf, I took advantage of my new proficiency with Nook to find out why it had such a following. At first, I had trouble with the lack of quotation marks and other road signs we are used to as readers. I even put it down and considered giving up on it. There are too many books out there that are easy to read. I'm glad I went back. Once I accepted it as a narrative, as if Haruf were sitting on the porch swing telling the story, I got into connecting the dots between what at first seemed like a series of vignettes with little to pull the characters together. After reading it, I found that it continues to slip back into my thoughts. It will probably go down as a favorite read in my life. Different, but well done and a welcome change to the books that are easy to read, and too easy to forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was pick for reading in our book club. I felt it was okay. I held my attention however, it did not seem to develope the characters in the book to a great degree. I would not have chosen this book to read if it had not been in our book club. I also thought for the content of the book it was a bit expensive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the first words to the last a delightful story . Just what I needed .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the simplicity of the story that relayed some serious life concerns and plausible ways to deal with them. It showed the values of a community helping one another.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A well told story about everyday people really mas you appreciate the quality of the writing. A book you can't wait to pick back up again.
BigSher More than 1 year ago
Some interpret the word "simple" in a derogatory manner, but I use it here as a high compliment. I appreciate authors who can tell a story in a clean, clear concise manner, and this book does that. It's such a sweet, kind and graceful tale of everyday people experiencing everyday life. I gave this book as a gift for Christmas, and I have given it on other occasions as well. The sequel is also wonderful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a beautifully written story by this gifted author.
mgoodrich718 More than 1 year ago
Plainsong By Kent Haruf 4 Stars cross posted to Share A Shelf The good reads just continue for this month! Spectacular recommendations I've had for books. I will say that this is tagged funny, however I am not at all sure why. Like a comfortable old shoe I immersed myself in Holt County in this wonderful book by Kent Haruf. The title says a lot about the book. One definition of Plainsong is any simple unadorned melody or air. Holt is simplicity, an unadorned place on the map. Plainsong can also mean a chant that builds and that also happens here, a crying out from the people of Holt. This is a story of different people living in the same area dealing with the complexities of even their simple lives. This is farming country, things are handled simply and no one wants to bother anyone with their troubles. Some don't even know what it is they needed or lacked until someone comes along and they realize. There is a pregnant 17 year old who has been disowned by her mother. A teacher who is lonely and his two young boys who have been left by their wife and mother. Two old farming bachelors who are set in their ways discover there is room for a change even 17 miles from anywhere. This is a poignant novel, you feel for this place and these lives that are contained there. I couldn't put it down. It transported me back to my childhood and rural country. To a simpler time and age. There were still problems of course and there always will be but it felt good remembering how that life was and how much I miss it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This man can write, don't miss this great story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful, gritty, human, rural story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved this book for years.
BRMiller More than 1 year ago
This was my first read from Kent Haruf. The hardships and happiness in this novel are believable and well built (there's got to be a better word... it's just GREAT!). Being from a small midwest town myself, I was amazed by the details that were placed perfectly. This book is a great read and you will not want to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a good read !! I would like to be neighbors with the townpeople and farmers/ranchers, good hearted, lovable
Eunie More than 1 year ago
Holt is a small town in eastern Colorado where young boys on bicycles deliver papers in the early morning hours and collect each month from their patrons. It's a place where everyone knows everyone and where their problems and their successes become the main topic of conversation among the citizens. The "good" guys are: Tom Guthrie a conscientious high school teacher; his two young boys who long for their mother, lost in a deep depression; Victoria a shy, pregnant seventeen-year-old girl, whose mother has kicked her out of her home; two old farmer brothers, Raymond and Harold, openhearted and generous, who have lived together all of their lives; Maggie Jones, also openhearted and generous, also a high school teacher who cares for her aged father stricken with a form of dementia; and the old lady who lives and dies in her apartment above the barbershop. The "bad" guys in this story are: the father of the baby, Victoria carries; the local barber who has a tight, mean heart; the spoiled-rotten high school boy and his parents who enable their son to be a failure; the pregnant girl's mother; and the boys' aunt, sister to their mother, so insensitive as to be cruel. In this story of fragmented lives intertwined, we see how even non-related people can become family. Plainsong, also now a movie, is an excellent story. Eunice Boeve, Author of Ride a Shadowed Trail
Stef14 More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing, you feel the way the characters feel, the book is brought to life. The story is one that many girls face when becoming pregnant at an early age this book can give them hope that even in the worst situations you survive and endure way more than expected.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So good, I read about a third of the book in one sitting and had to tear myself away to make it last longer. The characters to begin with, play at the readers heartstrings and only grow into more deeply lovable characters, flaws and all. This book deals with real issues but manages not to focus solely on the tragedy and mistakes made but that some good can come out of their troubles. I didn't want it to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Outstanding book. Written beautifully, yet a storyline one cannot put down - a rare combination. As a total 'city kid' I thought I couldn't relate to these mid-western characters they are people and characters so deep yet easy to understand, that you won't be able to put it down and will suddenly wish you actually knew your neighbors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite reads for a long time. The author's writing style seems deceptively simple, yet he conveys so very much reality, in its beauty and in its pain. I fell in love with the McPherons, and found myself wishing they were my 'grandfathers!' I'm not sure how this book could have been longer, but I wish it had been.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. Even months after reading it, it is like a movie running throught my head. The characters were so well developed. growing up in a ranching comunity I have to admit that their manerism described so many people I know. I could not put the book down. It touched me so much that I still get the chills thinking about it. Yes, there were some graphic parts, but for some reason I think they were necessary for the book to be what it was. Real... Lets face it real life is graphic. The way that the story lines of all the characters wove together and how they all afected the others lives left me in awe. beautiful, wonderful, powerful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lets hope after 300 long pages we get some character development. Not a page turner, but not bad on the other hand. One of those books when your friends see left on your coffee table, they think you are smart. Too many situations that made me feel uneasy. Glad I finished/got it over with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and couldn't put it down. The 'agape' love woven throughout the book was beautiful. The characters were very well developed and multi-faceted. A wonderful read, complete with difficult passages and truths.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel is a good book that has a very interesting story line. It kept me reading and interested through the entire book. i would recomend that you read this book if you like those kind of stories that everything goes wrong and in the end eveything gets better. I would sugest that if swearing and graphic delails bother you, this book is not for you. All in all, its a good read and worth your time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Plainsong, accurately named, is one of the most wonderful novels I have read. It tells of a complex tale, where the characters are constantly weaving in and out of each other, and yet there is a simplicity to the straightforward country tale. It is graphically written with simple language and structure. The novel remains easy to understand, telling things as they are. My favorite characters are the brothers: both pairs. I love the relationship between Bobby and Ike honest, childlike and real. They have a bond that Haruf portrays without many words spoken between the two of them. The McPheron brothers have a more developed relationship, more or less an older version of the younger boys. They continually make me laugh they are so simplistic, honest and kind it creates heartache for the ¿good ol¿ days¿. Their initial kindness and growing tenderness toward Victoria are nothing short of endearing their uncomplicated, contented lifestyle subtly reinforces what should be most important in life. There are many more elements, characters and themes that lace this novel and yet this is just a mere review. I greatly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it be read.