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* stars When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife must work together, along with their daughter, to make his final days as comfortable as possible, despite the absence of their estranged son. Next door, a young girl moves in with her grandmother and contends with the memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. A newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and son, and soon faces the disdain of his congregation. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do all they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors. I really liked Haruf's book Plainsong, so was looking forward to this book. Benediction is so depressing!!! I think we are supposed to empathize with "Dad" because he is estranged from his son, yet the reason for the separation is because Dad rejected his son because he is gay. Dad has had faithful employees helping him manage his store for years, but asks his daughter to give up her own life to come home and take over the store. The people who have worked for him for years no longer matter. Dad fired an employee for stealing from his store and then helped to support the man's family after he commits suicide. This does not make him a good man, it makes him a judgmental man who assuages his conscience by doing "the right thing" when it is too late. When his wife, Mary, briefly hospitalized for stress over the burden of caring for him, checks out AMA and walks home all the way across town, he tells her: “If you keep this up, I’m going to die right now and not put it off any longer, just to keep you from doing this again.” Good empathy there, Dad. Benediction means blessing - there is no blessing in this book except when Dad finally passes away and puts everyone, especially the reader out of our misery. I don't understand the author's purpose in writing this book. There is no redemption, no insight, no healing. I simply found the book profoundly depressing. Cannot recommend.
posted Oct 9, 2013 at 3:50PM
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