Abide With Me
By Elizabeth Strout
Completed October 1, 2011
“I suspect the most we can hope for, and it’s no small hope, is that we never give up, that we never stop giving ourselves permission to try to love and receive love.”
Tyler Caskey is a young minister in a small town in Maine. When his wife does shortly after the birth of their second child, Tyler’s world starts to disintegrate – slowly and steadily – until his congregation and town reach a crisis. How will Tyler respond? This question marks the remarkable Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout.
Strout is a masterful storyteller. Like Olive Kitteridge and Amy and Isabelle, she slowly reveals information about her characters with each chapter. At first, for example, Tyler appears to be hanging on – if by a thread – but as the story continues, the reader realizes that Tyler is in desperate need of an ear to listen to him and a shoulder to weep on. With the touch of her words, Strout can broaden your view of a character and story – casting a new light and forcing you to reform your opinion. Characters who begin unlikable turn into vulnerable humans that you empathize with. People who appear calm and content are really raging inside. Abide With Me has all of this – and more.
Admittedly, the book started out a little slow for me, but once it settled, especially during the last 50 pages, Abide With Me became spiritual and uplifting in its telling, offering the reader an introspective look at not only the lives of the characters – but his or her own life too. If you’re a fan of Elizabeth Strout, Abide With Me is not a book to miss. ( )