Twenty-four years after the publication of her successful book "Housekeeping," Marilynne Robinson followed up with 2004's "Gilead." This second novel would go on to win the  Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

76-year-old John Ames knows he is dying after a lifetime as a preacher in the fictional town of Gilead, Iowa. Knowing his days are numbered and knowing that his 7-year-old son will have limited memories of him, he writes a letter to his son. Part of the letter describes events during the days it takes him to write it, and part of it is a reflection on Ames's life and the lives of his father and grandfather, who were also preachers.

This is a thought-provoking novel. Robinson, via Ames, discusses theology, forgiveness, family relationships, racism, war, pacifism, and the different ways people practice and preach their beliefs. The novel contrasts Ames's pacificist father with his grandfather, who assisted John Brown's violent abolitionist methods before the Civil War.

Much of it revolves around the narrator's faith - how he lives his life relative to his belief and his role as a minister in the community.

"Gilead" is light on plot, but it captivates the reader with the thoughtful, optimistic musings of its narrator.