If you’ve passed a New York City bus lately, you may have noticed a poster for HBO’s new miniseries, Olive Kitteridge, plastered along the side of it. While we haven’t had the chance to tune in to our TVs lately, we always find time for a core-shaking read—and Elizabeth Strout’s best-selling book behind the miniseries sure is one of them.

Centered around retired schoolteacher Olive Kitteridge, Strout’s story consists of 13 different narratives linked by the aforementioned larger-than-life character. Set in the remote town of Crosby, Maine, Olive Kitteridge explores the lives, relationships and problems of the characters in this small coastal community.

But despite its provincial setting, Olive Kitteridge is powerful in its understanding of the human condition. Olive’s adult son, for instance, finds himself under the tyranny of his mother’s abrasive attitude and harsh words. A pianist is haunted by painful memories after a surprise visit from a former lover and Olive’s husband, Henry, struggles with mixed emotions surrounding his marriage. There is love, jealousy, hope and despair. And through all the drama that encompasses Olive’s life, Strout’s flawed heroine is forced to dig deep into her own psyche—for better or for worse.

Elle Fure is the Editorial Director of Spa Week Daily.