The story does not start beautifully. It is a story about a high school student who accidentally got pregnant. The father of the baby has fled and is nowhere to be found. Mocking and blaming her pregnant daughter, her mother kicked her out of the house. Her irresponsible father left home long ago. The 17-year-old goes to the teacher for help. The teacher, who lives alone except with the aging father, lets the teenager move in and live with them. The story begins to have some warmth from this point on.
Unfortunately, the teacher's father is mentally ill. He maltreats the teenager accusing her of stealing his wealth and even using violence. The teacher, after a long thought, decides to ask help from two elderly brothers who work in the rural family homestead, farming and raising cows. The two brothers, who have been living a simple farmer's life just like the farmers in Tolstoy's "War and Peace," took her in without much thought. What options do they have besides taking in the young pregnant teenager with no one to turn to and no place to go? The elderly brothers did not go to school and lived alone after their parents died in a car accident. Life at the farm is the only world they have ever known in their entire life. And they've never had a woman in their house before and do not know how to comfort the young lady. They attempt to start their first conversation with her about grains and cows and how their prices are these days...
With many more such awkward moments, the three of them slowly become a family and then four with the child the teenager gave birth to while finishing school. The brothers are now her parents, better ones than she ever had. A new form of family settles in, replacing the broken biological family. The two elderly who used to live like outlaws in the wild are also changed. After years of raising cows, they are now raising human beings and beginning to shake off the loneliness that haunted them for their whole life. For them, strangers offer salvation, not hell.
The story is from Kent Haruf's novel "Plainsong." The story features humble and plain people leading a simple life, just like a Gregorian chant without accompaniment. The world may be a little bit more livable with those people around.