Older protagonists are few and far in between in literature, and that’s why I’m particularly pleased with this list of the best books with senior protagonists.
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Books are one of the universal objects in life that can bring people from all different walks of life together. Reading can be an amazing pastime for those young and old. Still, many readers prefer books they can relate to, whether that be in terms of the plot, the timeline, or in this case, the age of the main character.
Many seniors, for instance, enjoy reading books that feature a protagonist that’s their age. Most younger readers who have seniors in their lives, also enjoy this kind of protagonist as they can relate in a different way. Here’s a list of five of the best books with a senior protagonist.
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The Best Books with Senior Protagonists Worth Checking Out
Three Things About Elsie
Published: August 7, 2018
Three Things About Elsie features an 84-year old main character. It is an amusing yet heartbreaking story about two friends and a secret they have shared for almost sixty years. As this novel progresses, the reader will learn about how that secret came to be, and why that secret is coming back to haunt them after a familiar-looking resident moves into the same nursing home as one of the main characters.
Readers that are looking for a feel-good, yet mysterious story should take the time to read, Three Things About Elsie.
Water for Elephants
Published: May 1, 2007
This heart wrenching historical fiction novel is set in the 20th century. It follows two main characters who fall in love; a veterinary student that has been forced to leave school, and a circus performer married to an abusive animal trainer. The two main characters must overcome a number of obstacles in order to be together. The story centers on the circus industry and a particular elephant that they end up sharing compassion for. This unique novel is told from the perspective of the veterinary student years later, making him a senior protagonist.
This authentic point of view makes the plot even more intriguing and will keep the reader interested until the very end.
Elizabeth is Missing
Published: June 10, 2014
This psychological mystery novel combines mystery with memory, identity, and age. It follows an elderly woman suffering from early signs of dementia as she tries to find a friend she believes has gone missing. As her dementia worsens, the reader is left wondering what has happened to the friend and will begin feeling just as confused as the elderly protagonist. In this tastefully disorienting novel, readers will be kept at the edge of their seats. It also engenders empathy and an understanding of what it’s like to not know what is going on because of dementia.
This book is a great choice for people of all ages. However, it may be particularly beneficial for readers that know someone in their life that is suffering from dementia. Readers will be able to briefly grasp what their loved one is going through.
Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth
Published: April 3, 2018
As the Vietnam War devastates the lives of thousands of Americans, a young girl finds herself desperate to save her older brother from the draft. Reenie, the young protagonist, and her other brother begin working tirelessly to earn money for their oldest brother to go to college so he can avoid being drafted. In their fit of desperation, Reenie finds herself communicating with an old man, Mr.Marsworth. Mr.Marsworth is a reclusive pacifist that has been ostracized by his neighbors for years. Reenie begins writing letters to Mr. Marsworth, and after a while, he begins writing back, and over time the two begin developing a plan to keep Reenie’s brother safe from being drafted.
Though an easy read, this novel does not lack in emotion, conflict, and various twists and turns that lead to secrets about both Reenie and Mr. Marsworth’s families. Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth can be enjoyed by middle school students and aging adults alike.
The Widower’s Tale
Published: September 7, 2010
The Widower’s Tale is a story like no other. As the main character is enjoying retirement, his daily activities are disrupted when he is persuaded into letting a preschool take over his barn. As he finds himself constantly surrounded by adults and children after forcing himself into solidarity, he must reconsider the true value of things in his life. While he considers his solidarity, the reader finds out why he forced himself into solidarity; because he blames himself for the death of his wife.
It’s easy to get through this novel in only a few sittings as you tries to find out why the elderly protagonist blames himself. Meanwhile, there are also three more characters that must also overcome personal exile. Awakening, suspenseful, mournful, and full of anticipation, this book is worth reading if you are looking for a book with a senior protagonist.
Whether you buy your books at the bookstore, online, or borrow from friends, keep these suggestions in the back of your mind. These books are great for people of all ages despite the protagonist being a senior. Start your next literary adventure today with one of these books.
What are your favorite books with senior protagonists? Have you read any of the picks on this list? I’d love to know what your thoughts were! Another popular middle-grade choice is Tamara Bundy’s Walking with Miss Millie.
About the Author
Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about things that can help others. She often writes for Comfort Keepers, which provides in-home care for seniors. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters