The best novels featuring older protagonists in intergenerational relationships

Who am I?

Because of the presence of my four beloved grandparents throughout my growing up years, (all four of my grandparents even attended my wedding), I’ve always enjoyed relationships with older people. My comfort with older people translates into my friendships where many of the women in my life are quite a bit older than me. These intergenerational relationships offer wisdom and experience that informs my own life. I hold an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and have written one novel for adults and one for middle-grade readers. My past jobs include being a television engineer, an adjunct professor, and a publishing professional.


I wrote...

The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon

By Linda MacKillop,

Book cover of The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon

What is my book about?

Eva wants to run away from her life—if only she could remember how. Failing memory has forced Eva Gordon to move in with her granddaughter, Breezy, but Eva hates the bustle of Boston. She just wants to move back to quiet Cape Cod and be left alone. Then Breezy announces she's getting married, and they'll be moving to her new husband's rundown family farm, where he lives with an elderly uncle. 

It's all too much for Eva, but as her desire for privacy collides with her worsening memory, Eva finds herself in a poignant, hilarious, and intergenerational rescue effort to save her from herself. Can an unlikely cast of misfit characters step in to woo Eva from self-imposed isolation?

The books I picked & why

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A Man Called Ove

By Fredrik Backman,

Book cover of A Man Called Ove

Why this book?

I love how this touching novel blends humor with poignancy as we experience the power of community and intergenerational relationships to lure cantankerous Ove away from his desire to harm himself. As a recent widower and a stickler for routine and order, Ove’s new young neighbors interrupt all his plans and routines to change the course of his lonely life with their chatty friendliness and inability to be dissuaded by his standoffishness. Through the author’s sympathetic rendering, Ove appears with all the complexities of a person who has been battered by life and fallen into loneliness. His story is a cautionary tale for us all.

A Man Called Ove

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked A Man Called Ove as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE PERFECT HOLIDAY READ' Evening Standard

'A JOY FROM START TO FINISH' - Gavin Extence, author of THE UNIVERSE VERSUS ALEX WOODS

There is something about Ove.

At first sight, he is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn't it rare, these days, to find…


Gilead

By Marilynne Robinson,

Book cover of Gilead

Why this book?

This gentle novel highlights the thoughts many of us would want to communicate to our children if we knew our days were numbered. Written as a letter to his young son, whom he will likely never see grow up, Reverend John Ames passes on lessons, regrets, and warnings he would tell his son himself if he lived long enough. Ames’ deep love for his much younger wife, and his concern about his best friend’s son, Jack, a ne’er do well, depict the power of intergenerational relationships to shape us and woo us into each other’s stories. I return often to this novel.

Gilead

By Marilynne Robinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gilead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION and THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD

AN OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK

In 1956, towards the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son: 'I told you last night that I might be gone sometime . . . You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother's. It's a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I'm always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after…


Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout,

Book cover of Olive Kitteridge

Why this book?

Written as a collection of short stories, each depicting crusty Olive Kitteridge in a different scenario, this novel brilliantly portrays a harsh woman who causes me to question why I love her so much. We see Olive’s self-awareness and sometimes tender side as she moves through her life. We see her in a relationship with her kind husband and with various townsfolks, always bringing her sardonic honesty. When I read Olive’s story for the first time, I surprised myself by falling l in love with her despite her startling relational gaffs. I believe we all have a little more of Olive than we care to admit—at least in our inner thoughts. 

Olive Kitteridge

By Elizabeth Strout,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Olive Kitteridge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


This Heavy Silence

By Nicole Mazzarella,

Book cover of This Heavy Silence

Why this book?

Single and self-sufficient Dottie O’Connell farms her 300 acres with strength and independence, not needing anyone. When she finds herself the primary caretaker to her friend’s young daughter Mattie after the girl is orphaned by a tragic fire, Dottie suddenly is thrust into guardianship with a young person she had no desire to raise. While I admired Dottie for taking on such a life-changing responsibility, at times I couldn’t fathom Dottie’s choices involving the girl. Thankfully, the author peels away the layers of Dottie’s wounds, allowing us at least to understand her while maybe not agreeing with her. Each of us has a Dottie story that influences our decisions for good or for bad. 

This Heavy Silence

By Nicole Mazzarella,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Heavy Silence as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an unforgettable debut novel about the nature of forgiveness, the debts we owe, and the mysteries of what we call grace. When Dottie Connell adopts her best friend's daughter out of a combination of spite and loyalty, she must confront her ideas on motherhood, sexuality, and God. Set in rural Ohio, "This Heavy Silence" spans ten years in Dottie's life. She loves the land despite its bitterness and hardship. She raises her adopted daughter and farms her family's three hundred acres in a time and place unaccustomed to independent women. Her struggle to buy back the farm comes…

The Sowing Season

By Katie Powner,

Book cover of The Sowing Season

Why this book?

I love any book featuring an older protagonist in need of some good community and a few younger people. After being forced to sell the dairy farm he had poured his heart into, Gerrit Laninga stumbles into wide-open days and an empty schedule that leaves him adrift and purposeless. He’s even lost touch with his family during his long days farming and now experiences their resentment toward him. When a few needy kids stumble across his path, we see the power of how unconditional friendships influence us all. And it helps that the intergenerational misunderstandings insert humor into the story.

The Sowing Season

By Katie Powner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sowing Season as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After he's forced to sell the family farm he's labored on his whole life, 63-year-old Gerrit Laninga doesn't know what to do with himself. He sacrificed everything for the land--his time, his health, his family--with nothing to show for it but bitterness, regret, and two grown children who want nothing to do with him.

Fifteen-year-old Rae Walters has growing doubts and fears about The Plan--the detailed blueprint for high school that will help her follow in her lawyer father's footsteps. She's always been committed to The Plan, but now that the pressure to succeed is building, what was supposed to…

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