Book Review / Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Put this on a list of books most likely to be recommended to my Grandmother. Here is a book that hooked me right from the start. John Ames is an elderly minister who is dying of a heart condition. He writes about his life addressed to his six-year-old son so he can have something to remember him by as he grows up without a father. Although it sounds emotional, Ames isn’t as sentimental as one might expect. It’s set in quiet Gilead, Iowa and compliments the town well with spare writing. Ames goes into memories of his father and grandfather dating back to the civil war. He touches on his religious beliefs, but never in a way that feels preachy. Every sentence is crafted with such care that you forget you’re reading a piece of fiction because the characters are so honest and believable. The structure is formatted into journal-like entries where one section you are reading about Ames childhood and the next you are hit with these beautiful passages of Ames observing his son playing out in the yard. The pacing was one of my favorite attributes of the book. It varies from easy flowing portions to other parts where you need to pay attention to every single sentence attentively. It may meander at times, but for me it almost added to the realism in the sense that it was as if Ames would write down random thoughts as to not forget. This may be one of the longest 200+ page books I’ve read because there is so much there despite not having a large word count. It’s not a book where you read to get to the end. You live with it and soak yourself in its cozy, simple sentences until it eventually ends and you’re left with a sense of fulfillment. It actually inspires me to write more so I have something concrete to leave behind. It’s a wonderful look at simple life in America and I feel comfortable recommending it to anyone who doesn’t mind books that don’t move at a fast pace. If I were to make my own list of books people should read before they die, this secures a spot. So now that it’s made two imaginary lists in the span of one review–go read it with your Grandma.

Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Date Finished: April 28, 2018

Page Count: 282


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