thoughts on haruf’s plainsong

Last month, I finally got around to reading Kent Haruf’s novel, Plainsong. I purchased it a few years ago because it was a finalist for the National Book Award. Reading the synopsis, I wondered how so many story threads would weave together to create something like a Gregorian chant. It looked like a quiet novel to rest into.

ancient blur calligraphy close up
Photo by Pixabay on

I was skeptical that I’d engage with this story about a pregnant teenager, two elderly spinster ranchers, a teacher, and the teacher’s two sons. How much could I relate to these characters? The novel called out for me to read it anyway.

The writing style was unadorned and the characters felt honest and believable. The various storylines read like the happenings of everyday people dealing with challenging situations. There were some scenes in the novel that illustrated the brutality of bullies which still haunt me. None of it seemed sentimental though.

By the time I reached the end of the novel, the storylines had become like the voices in a choir chanting a song. The simple, honest beauty of the story moved me deeply.

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