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Where You Once Belonged

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  2,479 Ratings  ·  326 Reviews
Heavy-built Jack Burdette is quite literally too big for his boots - and too big, certainly for the small-town attitudes of Holt, Colorado. But when he fails to make the grade as a college footballer, and takes a job with the local farmers' co-operative, it seems he has finally settled into the rhythm and routine of everyday life. Outward appearances can be deceptive, howe ...more
Paperback, 187 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Pan MacMillan (first published 1990)
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Must Reads For Young Ladies
47th out of 109 books — 29 voters
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Best of Kent Haruf
4th out of 9 books — 5 voters

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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jul 04, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, read-2016
4.5 Stars No.No.No.No.No.No.No.......Not the ending I was expecting!

I was totally absorbed in Kent Haruf's WHERE YOU ONCE BELONGED from start to finish. Holy crap, could this man write a story! Just a plain and simple read (you think) set in small town USA, and with so few characters. Ha!

Pat Arbuckle, newspaper owner/reporter for Holt County narrates the life of BIG Jack Burdette that, at first, I found somewhat amusing, but those feelings did not last long. What surprised me the most, I think,

Aug 04, 2016 Zoeytron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
Holt County, Colorado. A time and place where folks still look you in the eye and pretty much say what's on their mind. After falling off the face of the map for eight years, Jack Burdette, former high school football star and all-around charmer, shows up in the middle of the town square in a big red Cadillac. He's a good ol' boy, also a card carrying A#1 asshole. If he expects to be welcomed with open arms, he just may have another think coming.

Kent Haruf's lean economy of words will pick you
Edward Lorn
Jun 04, 2016 Edward Lorn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of hometown stories and crying
Shelves: paperbacks
4.5 stars rounded down.

I'm having a very unique problem lately. This is the second book that I've thoroughly enjoyed that I can't really recommend to anyone for fear that they'll hate it. So, once again, take my rating and this review with a grain of salt. You'll likely fucking hate this book.

Where You Once Belonged is a book that I would label a tragedy, in the vein of such depressing fair as Of Mice and Men and The Green Mile. Bad shit happens in this book, and the author doesn't care about yo
Apr 07, 2016 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
"If nothing else, Jack Burdette knows how to disappear."

As the sun slowly dips beyond the horizon, Jack Burdette, with his freshly new linens on credit, opens his car door, sits down and turns the ignition; he’s on his way out of town, away from his past. He suddenly returns eight years later with a plan and no one can stop him from achieving his goal.
Haruf shows us that life isn’t always fair and the bad guy doesn’t always get caught; life is open-ended and no one is safe, bereft from a na
Diane S ☔
Jan 21, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The prodigal son returns to his hometown of Holt, Colorado to what should have been his day of reckoning. Instead he will once again create havoc in someone else life. This novel took a turn I was not expecting and the ending was not one I expected at all.

Once again , Haruf with his understanding of small towns and the people who inhabit them, writes a novel that is anything but simple. Using his spare style of prose but an intimate tone by our narrator, a young man who runs the local paper that
Feb 21, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
This author is one of my favorites, to the point where I make sure I read at least one of his books every year. This year's choice, Where You Once Belonged, didn't disappoint.

The story is told by Holt Gazette owner/operator, Pat Arbuckle, about loved town football hero, Jack Burdette, and how he turned into the hated town black sheep. Its so much more the story of people, an observation of how they want a hero so badly that they will ignore the obvious and how money, and particularly the loss o
Jim Ainsworth
Aug 15, 2013 Jim Ainsworth rated it it was amazing
Haruf’s style mystifies me. I think I described it as sparse back then. The Rocky Mountain News describes it as brooding, pondering style that translates in first-class writing.

Don’t think I can improve on that description. What I can’t figure is how pondering and brooding translates into great fiction. But it does. Haruf has a way of telling a story that sometimes appears to be almost elementary, inexperienced, something a beginning writer might write. I guess that is what makes it brilliant.
May 03, 2013 Sheila rated it it was amazing
Kent Haruf tells the story of a man who can’t see beyond his own point of view, through the eyes of a friend who can’t help seeing too deeply into everyone else’s mind. And slowly the tangled links between the two become clear.

Jack Burdette is back in Holt Colorado, and at first nobody even sees him. But when they do, nobody’s glad. Jack doesn’t even seem to know why he came back. The narrator, however, sees more than a fat man in a car, and tells the story of a boy growing up, childhood pranks,
Jun 03, 2009 Mariah rated it it was amazing
This is the first book by Haruf that I have read. Many of the other reviews on goodreads say this book is not his best. If so, I'm in for a fabulous reading future, for Where You Once Belonged has the steady and rich momentum of a coal train loaded with gold. What a find!!!
Laurie Notaro
Jun 16, 2016 Laurie Notaro rated it really liked it
I love Kent Haruf. His stories seem so plain and straightforward, but are written with a subdued complexity that is not seen very often. He was a grand writer. This story takes place in Holt Colorado, and is just a thread that runs through the town, yet seems to affect everybody. The writing is succinct, deliberate and striking. It's about a bad, bad man and a rather good man and how their lives intersect and crash into one another. They've known each other since boyhood. The story is calm, and ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Debby, Rose
Kent Haruf returns to the town of Holt, a small wheat-farming community in rural Colorado. The people there are living out their lives of hard toil with few rewards, aside from hard drinking. The flat, dusty land that surrounds the town engulfs it in a prison of separation from the rest of society outside and serves to keep the inhabitants vigilant to the lives of others there in Holt. It is here that Jack Burdette grew up. A huge, hulking figure, a football star and hero in high school, he serv ...more
Oct 01, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
Jack Burdette returns to Holt, Colorado, after disappearing 8 years earlier. Once the town's golden boy he is now a pariah after destroying many of the people who once respected him so much. His return is absolutely unwelcome and badly affects most of the population.
Haruf returns to his fictional town of Holt for another dose of small town life mixed with big time drama. The writing is lean and clean and there's not a single unnecessary word or phrase. Burdette, as the `bad guy' could have ended
Michael Twist
Jun 20, 2014 Michael Twist rated it really liked it
While lacking the literary brilliance of PLAINSONG, Kent Haruf's WHERE YOU ONCE BELONGED is an intriguing and well told yarn of a local legend-gone-bad told through the somewhat detached perspective of a small town newspaper editor who is particularly impacted by the plight of former football hero, Jack Burdette. Haruf is gifted in the arena of creating a hunger on the part of the reader to learn more about what makes each character tick, but never quite satisfies that curious reader in that reg ...more
Claire Fuller
May 02, 2016 Claire Fuller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
This book grew on me slowly and then built and built until it became perfect - right up to and including the last line. Can you give a book five stars based on the last line? I think you can.
Where You Once Belonged is another novel (novella really) by one of my favorite authors, Kent Haruf. As is the case with all of Mr. Haruf's books, the story is set in fictional Holt, Colorado.. a beautiful yet harsh landscape inhabited by people who value a hard day's work, enjoy the simple things in life but are always aware that happiness is fleeting. I love Mr. Haruf's plain and minimalist use of language.. it seems appropriate to the citizens of Holt and the quiet lives they lead.

This story
Jan 03, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it
Kent Haruf died exactly one month after my beloved father (they were born the same year, too), and, when I found out, I cried right into my hands.

I've had a literary love affair with Haruf, and this was the only book of his I hadn't read. We now have no new territory to explore together.

His book, Eventide, remains my five-star favorite; I do believe it was his Great American Novel, but Where You Once Belonged was wonderful. They're all wonderful. And, even though this particular story is just so
Ruthie Jones
Feb 07, 2013 Ruthie Jones rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
Haruf can sure tell a story. The simple life in a small Colorado town is neither simple nor predictable. It's interesting that Haruf chooses to tell the story through a first person reflection. This obviously makes the narrator, Pat Arbuckle, somewhat unreliable, especially since he's so closely connected to the story's events. Of course, this action shows that it's never easy to know exactly what is the truth, what is the exaggerated truth, and what is false...just like in real life.

Mar 17, 2012 Trisha rated it liked it
I picked up this book because I loved Kent Haruf’s other books, Plainsong and Eventide, and so when I saw that this one was set in the same fictional town in Colorado I expected it to have the same blend of gentle grace and gritty wisdom as the other two. Unfortunately this book fell far short of my expectations. This one was written before the other two and it seems to me that while Haruf succeeded in creating the small town ambiance and quirkiness of those who lived there, he hadn’t yet captur ...more
John Owen
Jan 26, 2016 John Owen rated it liked it
This an interesting and compelling book. I read it in one sitting. If you are interested in classifying what you read, I think you would have to call this a novella.

The story moves very quickly and you want to see what happens next but there are gaps where you never do get to learn what happens. Ultimately, this is unsatisfying.

On the other hand, I will read anything Kent Haruf has written. He is a unique and gifted writer.
Sharon Huether
Apr 14, 2016 Sharon Huether rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The Prodigal son came back to town after an eight year absent, just in time for the statute of limitations to run out.
He always took what he wanted, no remorse.
His wife and children were still in town.
All the people of Holt were unable to stop him, but were left with a sad reminder , broken people in a lonely town.
The author packed so much emotion in relating this story. The characters were made so alive, you could feel their hurt.
3 1/2 stars. My apologies to the author's significant other, but I have a big crush on Kent Haruf. If his writing is indicative of the sort of man he is, then he must be a jewel: romantic, honest, plain-spoken and brilliant.

As I have said in reviews of his other books, Haruf is a master storyteller. There aren't any dull moments in his books, and his characters are golden. This is my least favorite of his books, but I mostly attribute that to the ending which disappointed me. Far be it for me to
Dec 06, 2014 Annette rated it really liked it
I realized the other day, when I got the news that Kent Haruf had died, that I had not read this book.

Kent had such a knack for describing places and people with vivid detail, while using a few words as possible. It's a trait that lends itself to his descriptions of eastern Colorado along the high plains. He characters are rich and their voices are true to life.

The story is about a spoiled child who grows up to be a spoiled selfish man who takes what he believes he is entitled to, whether it tr
Jul 31, 2009 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Kent Haruf's writing. It feels a bit like I'm visiting my hometown after being away for a very long time, and I'm sitting down with the narrator for an afternoon and gettting caught up on what's been going on while I've been gone.

Having grown up on the plains of Northeastern Colorado makes reading Haruf's books even more of a treat. I love it when he references various towns and landmarks that I know well, even if he does give some of them different names. Those of you who also made the
Apr 25, 2012 TBV rated it it was ok
This work was merely ok. It definitely is not as good as his work titled Plainsong.

Where You Once Belonged reads like a memoir in first person, even though it is fiction. The story begins at the end and moves back in time then ends where it began. That much was interesting. There was not much to the novel, the story is scant, not much action, very little thought, just an account of things and people. There was nothing profound about it. I'm not sure what to think about the ending (I'll not ruin
Jun 19, 2010 Lara rated it really liked it
I think I have an author crush. My first experience with Kent Haruf was a number of years ago when I picked up PLAINSONG, a simple and graceful story of discordant lives colliding and intersecting in the small prairie town of Holt, Colorado. He drew me in with his carefully crafted prose and did it in such a way that made beautiful writing seem effortless.

You should know that when I have a literary crush and a penchant for buying books, it's all I can do to not scoop up all of the works I can by
Jan 13, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

In this spare novelette, Kent Haruf -- a master at exploring small town America -- tells the story of Jack Burdette, a natural-born bad boy whose selfish and pathological behavior forms the twisted spine of this book.

Jack had once been the town hero, because as an oversized teen, he had been a brilliant football player, and even after he washed out of the University of Colorado as a freshman, the men of rural Holt, Colorado, decided he was the perfect choice to run the town grain elevator.

Mar 29, 2016 Antonia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
I would read anything by Kent Haruf. Sadly, there is only one more novel of his that I haven't read. He is an astonishingly great writer! Having read five of his novels, the last three quite close together, I feel as if I come from Holt, Colorado — the fictional town in which all of them are set — or had spent a lot of time there. And it's a place that it's hard to leave. A small, high-plains town where the residents lead (mostly) quiet, uneventful lives. Enough happens in this book, though, to ...more
Oct 28, 2015 Antoinette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I feel a deep regret as I finish this book- this is the last book I will be able to read by one of the best authors ever.(I have read them all!) I love going to small town Holt and meeting its people. The language in his books is simple but eloquent. With each of his books, I am drawn in immediately and the ending always comes way too soon. In this book "Where You Once Belonged", we meet Jack Burdette, the small town football hero who returns after an 8 yr absence. He left under nefarious circum ...more
Sep 06, 2013 Serena rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-fiction
A beautiful story. Slow-moving and romantic in the sense that it captures the hope and beauty of a small American town where the residents all grow up together and live out their lives like actors in a grand play. You can capture a collections of slivers of the town's life and hold them up to the light to see the story unfold.

The writing is beautiful, but spare, bringing to mind the young Hemingway - or early Larry McMurtry when he told tales of people and passion (All my Friends Are Going to be
Mary Snaddon
Jul 03, 2016 Mary Snaddon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Once again, from the pen of Kent Haruf, simple beautifully written. Characters you will love and hate and totally believe in. Tugs at your very soul.
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Kent Haruf was born in eastern Colorado. He received his Bachelors of Arts in literature from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and his Masters of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973. For two years, he taught English in Turkey with the Peace Corps and his other jobs have included a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation ...more
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