83. Abide With Me: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout (2006)
During the late 1950s, in the small New England town of West Annett, Maine, Reverend Tyler Caskey is a man struggling through a crisis of faith. Having recently suffered a terrible loss, Tyler finds it incredibly difficult to be the person he once was. He has always considered himself to be a man of strong faith, and a highly-respected minister to his congregation. Now, in the face of Tyler’s crushing grief, he finds himself doubting everything about his life that he once took for granted.
In the opinion of his disapproving, hypercritical mother, Tyler’s two daughters – two-year-old Jeanne and five-year-old Katherine – aren’t being taken care of properly. He struggles to find the proper words in his sermons, and in his conversations with those facing crises of their own. He finds the personal counseling sessions with his parishioners to be fairly meaningless actually; especially when they don’t seem to want to follow his advice.
He hasn’t even been successful in finding the right words to help bring his daughter, Katherine, out of the vow of silence she has observed in the wake of the family’s tragedy. Tyler’s usually kind and patient congregation has now begun to quietly question his leadership and propriety, and soon, inexcusable accusations are born out of anger and gossip. Then, in Tyler’s darkest hour of need, a startling new discovery will test his parishioners’ humanity – and his own will to endure the trials that sooner or later test us all.
I must say that while this book was slightly difficult to get into; I still found the story riveting and poignant. As I said, I had a bit of trouble getting into the flow of the story, but it was only a temporary feeling. This was the type of book that I began to read compulsively, after the first few pages, because I avidly wanted to know what was going to happen next. Overall, I give this book a definite A+!
A+! – (96-100%)