I spent last evening with Kent Haruf’s reflective book, Our Souls at Night. It was a five-star read packed into a short 148 pages. Haruf draws the reader simply and sweetly through the lives of two older people, like a spoon through caramel.
Septuagenarian Addie Moore is lonely, and she asks her neighbor Louis Waters if he’d like to start sleeping at her house some nights. The idea is to talk and sleep, and assuage the darkness by being together. Considering they aren’t close friends, this is a bold idea. That I happened to read it on an evening my husband of 22 years was out of town, made it more bittersweet for me.
Haruf builds his story with skill and finesse. The events in the story are all simple, quiet moments of everyday life. The themes are timeless—privacy, self-determination, love, and family. Addie and Louis create a warm and caring family unit between themselves, and yet it is questioned by others who would turn it into something less valid, less honest.
I’ve seen a few reviewers express discomfort with the ending. I disagree. To me it illustrates exactly the complexity of real life, especially in light of this being Haruf’s last book, written while he was gravely ill.
Knowing the Netflix produced a movie this year based on the book, gave me voices for the characters in my head. But Addie and Louis are universal, and could exist in any community and be any color or creed. I’m glad to have spent an evening reading in bed with them.