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The Plain Sense of Things

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  71 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In prose as clean and beautiful as the stark prairie setting, The Plain Sense of Things tells the stories of three generations of a western Nebraska family. These tales of sorrow and hope are connected by the sinews of need and flawed love that keep families together. A farm wife struggles to support her children after the death of her second husband; a young woman grapple ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Bison Books
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3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  71 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama, family, meh
This one was meh. I did finish it because I wanted to see how it ended, but it was basically a series of vignettes from the life of a farm family. It was a bit all over the place and some characters were introduced, only to be forgotten by the next chapter or so. The focus was mostly on the 1940s/50s, and by the end of the book, the years were being rushed through.
Aug 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: midwest, religion
This quietly moving novel follows various members of an extended family in rural western Nebraska from the 1930s through the 1950s, with a couple of short concluding chapters set in the 1970s, as the third generation, which has grown and scattered, returns to the community. Written in a very understated way about routine day-to-day hardscrabble lives, it understates both the family dysfunction that so many writers would overdo and the small, redemptive moments as well. Not much drama here, so so ...more
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A novel in stories (although my library labeled it "short stories") told from the perspective of various people from several generations in a family. The voices are all distinctive and convincing, and her writing drew me in from the first page. I loved her first novel, and I was not at all disappointed in this second book. I'm looking forward to more from Joern in the future. It says something that she's the only writer with two books in the Flyover Fiction series. Small presses don't take major ...more
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is story of a family of Nebraska prairie farmers beginning in the 30s and ending in the late 70s. Each chapter describes a member of the family and how they cope with changing historical events of the time. The prose was beautiful, the characters so believable, and the description of the Nebraska heartland so right on. I loved the book. It's not a fast paced book, but it's one that I found myself, as I read, quietly transformed into another place and time, with a family I somehow had b ...more
Margaret Williams
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book took me back to my family's farms outside Stanton, Nebraska. It was easy to imagine different relatives experiencing a life I didn't consider and gives possible explanations for their personalities. I thought of my grandfather, a silent man sitting in his chair. He was a hard father and probably not the best husband. We just never know what goes on behind closed doors and in people's minds. This was a very touching book for me.
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it
This novel made of loosely connected stories of an extended family starting in 1931 and ending in the late 70's is very realistic. It takes place on the high plains of Nebraska and is true to the characters and setting of everywhere on the high plains. It is very well written but in places can be depressing as real life can be. I liked the ending very much.
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book followed members of the same family for half a century through their hardships living in Nebraska. It was snippets of each life, so it was hard to really get to know the characters (with the possible exception of Alice) and empathize with them. It was just ok for me... a quick read but nothing spectacular.
Jan 25, 2009 added it
About the dynamics of 3 generations of a rural Nebraska family. For such a short book, there were too many characters to keep track of and the story a bit depressing. Joern's THE FLOOR OF THE SKY was a great book. This one was a disappointment.
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
I like to read about the wide open spaces of Nebraska so I picked this up at the library. The book covers different members of a NE extended family from pre-WWII to after the war. It's not the cheeriest collection, but it's a good Nebraska read.
Carol Carlson
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Another great family saga set on the plains of Nebraska. Captivates the love, disdain and hard work of a life made out of the land.
Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Very clean writitng style. I couldn't put this one down.
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
A lovely novel. The first 3/4 pulled me through very quickly, but I was a little disappointed in the ending, which felt like a too-quick wrap-up. Overall, a good fast read.
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: new-westerns, rural
A book in short stories. Family history in rural Nebraska across the 20th century. Very sweet and sad.
Oct 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, book-club
A detailing of the "hard-scrabble life" through many different pairs of eyes in an accumulating series of short stories. Perhaps the understated, undemonstrative life is worth living.
Dec 01, 2008 marked it as want-to-read
Good startrib review. MN writer. "The ways the heart weathers chronic hardship"
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Jennifer Donnelly
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Lee Hertzler
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Bob Clague
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