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Etta and Otto and Russell and James
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Archive: Other Books > Etta and Otto and Russell and James - Hooper - 4 stars

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Jgrace | 3112 comments Etta and Otto and Russell and James - Hooper
Audio performance - by Robert G. Slade
4.5 stars

Has anyone else noticed there seems to be a growing sub-genre of books about adventurous elderly people? They are all out there; Harold Fry, Lillian Boxfish, Allan Karlsson, and now 81-one-year- old Etta. Mostly they walk. They go on pilgrimage. They pursue their own personal quests toward their own quirky goals. I’m keeping my eyes open. I feel like I might run into them when I’m out walking my dog.

Etta is married to Otto. Russell is their neighbor and lifelong companion. James is a coyote. Etta begins to have trouble sleeping. She seems to be having Otto’s disturbing dreams of WW2 combat trauma. She decides that it will be best if she goes away. She wants to see the ocean. She decides to walk across Saskatchewan to the sea. Otto waits for her at home. Russell goes after her. James, the coyote, talks to her as they walk. All of them think about the past.

I loved the characters in this book. I loved their salt-of-the-earth solid decency. I loved that way this book blended harsh reality, sweet nostalgia, and just the right touch of quirky magical realism. In the end it’s hard to know what part of Etta’s journey is real and what is not. That’s probably all for the best.


message 3: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2671 comments Sounds delightful!

There are a lot of books in that sub genre aren’t there? Water For Elephants is another (though most of it is backstory)


Joni | 625 comments I also adored this book.


Booknblues | 6883 comments I loved this book and I love this sub-genre if it is one.


message 6: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) And then there are teens who rescue grandparents from nursing homes to take them on quests. Or groups of gals who take one last road trip together.

I'm anticipating a book about elderly hippies attending one last Woodstock-style festival, smoking joints with the 20-something youngsters, getting up on stage to jam with the band, etc. You know somebody must be writing that right now, right?

Harold Fry is a bit different, though, as there are lots of Literary references to Classical Quests in there; it's not just a fun or inspirational book. I need to reread that.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6405 comments I gave it three stars. Did not find it as engaging as Harold Fry. I think part of this was the way Hopper used magical realism. Part also was the changing points of view and time frames. At the end I was left feeling as if I had missed something.


Ellen | 2327 comments I enjoyed this one quite a bit. And you're right ---- there are a lot of feisty elder folk being written about lately. Being one of them myself, I can relate!


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