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Stones for Ibarra

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  2,925 Ratings  ·  248 Reviews
Two Americans, Richard and Sara Everton, are the only foreigners in Ibarra. They live among people who both respect and misunderstand them, and gradually, the villagers--at first enigmas to the Evertons--come to teach them much about life and the relentless tide of fate.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 8th 1985 by Penguin Books (first published 1984)
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Mary Lynn Hendrickson
This is one of a handful of books that I always buy used in order to give away to people. What I liked best about it (as well as her "Consider this, Senora") as the poetic prose. Not too heavy, not too light. Not too flowery, not too sparse. Just right. Musical in a sense, but not obviously so. The kind of writing that's more a window than a door to help you see the beauty and sacredness that's inherent in "everyday life."

What I especially liked in "Stones," however, was the very artful way -- s
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Karen
Aug 19, 2015 Karen rated it it was amazing
I actually thought about how much I love this author when I picked the name Harriet for our daughter. Very nice voice in her writing.
Sera
Jan 02, 2009 Sera rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction, own
I struggled with the rating for this book, because it probably deserves 5 stars. However, I as the reader had a little difficulty putting everything together so that the lower rating more likely represents a deficiency on my part instead of a commentary on the book itself.

Nevertheless, this book is beautifully written, because the rhythm is very lyrical in nature. It's about a couple who move to Mexico in the 1960s to re-establish a mine that the husband's grandfather had abandoned in 1910. The
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Nina
Feb 18, 2010 Nina rated it really liked it
Shelves: grown-up
You should read this book even if it's not really your kind of thing. A couple, one just over 40 and the other just under, move from the Bay Area to rural Mexico to start up the husband's old family mine. The book feels more like a collection of short stories than a novel. The language is lyrical without being gushing and Jake will be happy to know that Doerr never dips into magical realism. There might be odd coincidences and an oddly humorous but sad bit in which an old priest is followed ...more
Emily
Dec 20, 2013 Emily rated it did not like it
It feels like assigned reading for a high school English class. Like it is probably good for me somehow but I'm just not getting it. I didn't connect to any of the stories or characters. My favorite part was being done.
Jennifer Hughes
Dec 20, 2013 Jennifer Hughes rated it liked it
I read this at the request of someone who has taught it for years and thinks it's all that. For me it was a mixed bag. The prose is elegant and almost deceptively simple. So why not 5 stars?

Each chapter is basically a stand-alone story. It's kind of a patchwork of all of these stories of different characters and situations and how they all come together to make up this small Mexican town Ibarra. Where I got hung up is that is that I never had the drive to pick up the book and see what was going
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Sana
Aug 18, 2011 Sana rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Stones for Ibarra is one of those books which should be read at least once in life. I thought that I will like this book as much as I like To Kill a Mockingbird or Frankenstein but I just couldn't. However, what made Stones for Ibarra a rediscovery of life for the Evertons was the division of chapters in stories of the people of Ibarra. If nothing else, Ibarra isn't one of those honest-to-God small towns in far off rural Mexico.

While the community of Ibarra, from the cura to Remediosa Acostas,
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Phyllis Gauker
Jul 06, 2014 Phyllis Gauker rated it it was amazing
This is truly a wonderful book if you have any interest in other cultures. The story is about an American couple who move, sight unseen (except in old photographs), from California to a tiny village 80 kilometers from the nearest big town in Mexico to attempt to revise a mine which had been started by his grandfather. I loved the intimacy of the couple, his tolerating her making up stories about the people from the few facts at hand, her refusal to deal with his doctor's prediction of only 6 ...more
Betsy Fasbinder
Dec 20, 2013 Betsy Fasbinder rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book...people I trust tout it as their favorite, but I just didn't. Perhaps it's the disjointed nature of the stories, but I just couldn't get involved with any of the characters. The writing has some beautiful little gems along the way--exquisite when you find them--but I'm not sure I found them worth the digging. Perhaps if I'd "gotten it" earlier that this was not a single story, but a series of barely connected stories, I might have enjoyed it more. I kept trying to tie ...more
Tracy Staton
Jan 30, 2012 Tracy Staton rated it liked it
I read this book right after Death Comes for the Archbishop, a very old book with a similar structure of short stories embedded in a longer narrative, and right before Sacred Games, a brand new book (up for the NBCC this year) with the same. All very different books, though, which to me shows the versatility of this technique. I loved, loved, loved the Willa Cather book and only really really liked this one, though, I think because this novel was primarily atmospheric. I liked sinking into its ...more
Ted
Apr 26, 2015 Ted rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s-works
This novel is probably well worth a read. But I've read it, and even though I remember nothing about it, and it's short, I'm getting rid of it.

It was the winner of the "American Book Award" (whatever that is) in 1984, so I probably read it thirty years ago. The blurb on the back quotes the NYT: "A very good novel indeed, with echoes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Katherine Anne Porter, and even even Graham Greene". Pretty good company!
Tuck
usa couple move back to rural mexico to re-open their grandparents copper mine (shut down by the revolution of 1910?)
authors first novel, won national book award. she was about 60 when she wrote it.

about small town life in mexico, and ever present death, dancing with your melancholy self.
Karen
Jul 13, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
I don't really know how to review this book, but I just say that I couldn't stop thinking about it. The main character came to Ibarra, thinking she could change things, but found that she was the one who changed.
Jen
Dec 30, 2015 Jen added it
SERIOUSLY struggling with this book. One of the reviews says it's like reading a book assigned for high school english, and I can totally relate.
Debbie Zapata
Mar 14, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it it was amazing
Shelves: saturday
Lovely book.
Annegertrude
Nov 24, 2016 Annegertrude rated it really liked it
What at first seemed a disparate collection of stories - that you knew were connected - are brought together seamlessly. I found the writing simple and graceful.... You know the end at the beginning, but the journey is worth the ride.
Gayle Crossley
Nov 06, 2016 Gayle Crossley rated it it was ok
So so - couldn't connect with the characters. Holly B loved the writing style. Read for book club. Don't recommend
Amanda
Oct 15, 2016 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Hauntingly simple, lyrical prose. A collection of vignettes interlaced with the overarching story of a Norteamericano couple in rural Mexico.
Jeannette
Beautiful writing, lyrical and haunting in much of the imagery ... descriptive of human nature and primal struggles... but ultimately this tale falls short of more than a hint of transformative or eternal verities.
Marsha Iverson
Oct 04, 2016 Marsha Iverson rated it really liked it
Doerr's first, speculatively autobiographical novel, was published four year after she completed her bachelor's degree at Stanford--at age 67. Another small-but-powerful immersion into the lives of others, Stones for Ibarra reveals the large and small dramas of daily life in a rural Mexican village, in contrast to the comfortable life left behind by the American couple who move there despite warnings from their friends. Through the dispassionate eyes of an omniscient narrator, Doerr's writing ...more
Bonnie
Jul 24, 2012 Bonnie rated it it was amazing

Harriet Doerr finished her degree from Stanford at the age of 67 and received The National Book Award for her novel “Stones for Ibarra” in 1984 at the age of 73; talk about your late bloomer. From what I can gather, she did everything very deliberately and with painstaking effort. It’s said that when writing, she wrote little more than a sentence a day, meticulously crafting each sentence with the utmost care. And when reading her novel one can’t help seeing the result of her precision. If you e
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Jennifer Bernauer
Oct 06, 2016 Jennifer Bernauer rated it really liked it
Loved the story of the writer just as much as the book....favorite was the simple sparse style that was very descriptive.....wish some story lines developed a bit more like success of mine...but that was I guess not the point
Shawn Mooney
Nov 20, 2016 Shawn Mooney rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
A delightful, unusual little novel, Harriet Doerr's debut when she was 73. A middle-aged American couple uproot themselves, moving to a small Mexican town to reopen the copper mine the man's grandfather had abandoned a half century before. The relations between the townspeople and the Americans are chronicled with lyrical, Marquezian verve. Most of Doerr's eccentric choices about what to put in and what to leave out were intriguing; the chapters that focused on the non-believing Americans's ...more
Pascale
Apr 03, 2015 Pascale rated it liked it
This is a lovely and quietly affecting book. Although some readers apparently found it too episodic for their taste, such wasn't the case for me. What I did find a bit unsatisfying was how shadowy one of the 2 central characters, Richard Everton, remains throughout. Arguably the focus of the book is his wife's anticipation of his death, and her efforts to prepare herself for premature widowhood. Nonetheless, the book would have been richer if the author had seen fit to deal with the contrast ...more
Anna Peschong
Feb 08, 2008 Anna Peschong rated it really liked it
This is a short, beautifully written tale of two Americans who move from San Francisco to a small village in Mexico called Ibarra.

As short and lovely as it is (214 pages) it took me FOREVER to get through because of my ambivalence toward the main character. She struck me as a bit spaced out and sometimes foolish: she is faced with losing her husband, the love of her life and she copes by imagining things and creating scenarios in her head and even repeating some silly notions to her husband who
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Leta-Kaye
Feb 03, 2011 Leta-Kaye rated it really liked it
Although the plot is simple -- an American couple reopening a family mine in a small Mexican village -- "Stones for Ibarra" invokes layers of meaning. More than anything, this is a story about stories. While Richard works his grandfather's mine and waits for leukemia to claim his life, Sara builds her own reality from the will-power of denial and her interpretation of the tragic tales of the village. Where missing facts and her minimal Spanish leave gaps, Sara fills in and embellishes with her ...more
Alison
Feb 28, 2012 Alison rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grad-school
Fabulous book. It reads so fast, just absolutely addictive. It's one of those books I just couldn't put down; I had to know what was going to happen. I look forward to rereading it to see the little things I might have missed.

I really liked the structure. You could pick out the individual chapters as short stories; they would make sense, would be impactful, outside of the book as a whole. But they were even better together. I really liked the point of view, close in to Sara Everton. I also reall
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Richard
Jun 29, 2011 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 3rd time I have read this book. There is something about it that draws me back. Maybe it is the list of items at the bottom. I'll probably read it again in a few years.

It is the story of a 40 year old couple who move to Mexico to open a defunct copper-silver mine that had been mined 50 years previously by a grandfather. The story is of the people in the small village of Ibarra as told through the eyes of Sara Everton. Her husband, Richard, has been diagnosed with some sort of blood d
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Callie
Dec 20, 2013 Callie rated it it was ok
Reading this book was like climbing an endless dusty, sandy, duney sand dune. Reading this book reminded me of when I took multicultural american lit in college. I knew the writing was decent, even lovely, much of it, but it wasn't for me. It was a chore. The book is largely episodic and the episodes just aren't that compelling. I felt like Doerr was holding me at a distance. Her prose is spare and elegant, but coming off the passion of Elena Ferrante (I had just read My Brilliant Friend) I felt ...more
Elizabeth Marro
Jun 18, 2016 Elizabeth Marro rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Stones for Ibarra
by Harriet Doerr (1983)

I’ve read this novel four times and each time have fallen a little more in love with it. Doerr renders the most ordinary moments extraordinary, simply by choosing them the way she would one stone among many, and lifting it to the light so we can really see it. The novel follows Richard and Sara Everton who leave all they know in San Francisco to reopen a mine in rural Mexico fifty years after it was abandoned by Richard’s grandfather. We learn in the openi
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Harriet Doerr (April 8, 1910 – November 24, 2002) was an American author whose debut novel was published at the age of 74.

A granddaughter of California railroad magnate and noted collector of art and rare books, Henry Edwards Huntington, Doerr grew up in a Pasadena, California, family that encouraged intellectual endeavors. She enrolled in Smith College in 1927, but transferred to Stanford Univers
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“They have not considered that memories are like corks left out of bottles. They swell. They no longer fit.” 15 likes
“It is something they will see everywhere - a disregard for danger, a companionship with death. By the end of a year they will know it well: the antic bravado, the fatal games, the coffin shop beside the cantina, the sugar skulls on the frosted cake.” 4 likes
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