Image of Benediction
Release Date: 
February 25, 2013
Reviewed by: 

“A thoroughly moving experience . . .”

“Dad” Lewis, as he’s known to everyone in town, lives with his wife, Mary in the small hamlet of Holt, Colorado. They have lived in the same house in the community for many years. Dad owns the local hardware store. Their two children, Lorraine and Frank are now grown and on their own.

A trip to the doctor brings the agonizing diagnosis that Dad is stricken with terminal cancer and is not expected to live much longer. Lorraine, residing in Denver, comes home to help her mother with Dad and to share his last days with him. Beloved by all, Dad and his wife and daughter are all heartbroken that Frank is not there and cannot be found. A long ago disagreement triggered distance between him and Dad, and he left home at a young age.

The new pastor of their church, Reverend Lyle comes to offer comfort to the family, but he is overwhelmed by his problems with the congregation and his relationship with his wife and son, both of whom do not want to be in the small town.

Berta May, the elderly next door neighbor unexpectedly gains custody of her granddaughter Alice after her mother dies. Alice, still raw from her loss, is fearful of Dad and his disease, which is a brutal reminder her of her mom’s illness and death.

Throughout the book, the reader is privy to the backstory of the characters, offering more than the depressing tale of an impending death. Mr. Haruf does not use quotation marks to denote each speaker’s comments and seems to lean toward run-on sentences, but rather than distract from the reading, the style somehow adds to the charm and character of the story.

Benediction gives a heartrending glimpse into the existence of a man facing his mortality. Friends and family come together while dealing with their own life obstacles, to show love, compassion and strength.

A thoroughly moving experience . . .