Ron Christiansen's Reviews > The Tie That Binds

The Tie That Binds by Kent Haruf
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's review
Dec 28, 2011

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Read on December 28, 2011

Not my favorite Haruf novel (see Plainsong and Eventide) but often compelling although also quite depressing. I don't mind depressing yet struggle when the depressing stuff happens even before I can care about the characters and then just continues throughout. Still an interesting narrative structure with a first-person account from one of the main characters, Sanders Roscoe; also, innovative while also frustratingly the mystery introduced at the beginning of the novel is not fully explained until the very end (though it's fairly easy to guess). I suppose that's Haruf's point that you can't fully understand a person's life, in this case Edith Goodnough, until you experience all the details. As the narrator says about trying to understand Edith's actions and lack of action, "well, that was their business, because when you know people all your life you try to understand how it is for them. What you can't understand you just accept."

When all is said and done the theme and title of the book, "The tie that binds," slams you like a sledge hammer--bind indeed. The reader is left to decide if Edith was quite GoodEnough in the end.

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