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Book #22 – A Complicated Kindness – the end

July 7, 2009

That’s two books I’ve read in a row now that have been about the loss of a loved one and holding on to them by replaying memory after memory.

I was wrong in my synopsis of A Complicated Kindness before I started reading. Nomi isn’t trying to find out why her mother and sister took off. She knows exactly why – they were excommunicated by their Mennonite church, which meant they would be shunned by everyone in town. The book is about her and her dad attempting to make sense of their lives with half the family missing while still living in the community that shunned them. It’s about 16-year-old Nomi trying to make sense of who she is within the confines of that community with such extreme and rigid beliefs, and finding she doesn’t really fit there. Actually, she doesn’t fit at all.

“But there is a kindness here, a complicated kindness. You can see it sometimes in the eyes of the people when they look at you and don’t know what to say.” (p. 46)

The book starts off hilariously, with a tinge of sadness. I love Nomi’s take on her family, her town, and her life. But by the end I felt so heartbroken for this girl. She has spent 3 years without her mother and older sister, and has received no real sympathy or comfort from anyone. She wants so badly for someone to show that they care about her, but she still ends up completely on her own.

My rating for A Complicated Kindness: 8.7. I don’t know if I would reread the whole book, but there are so many great lines that I keep flipping through the pages to reread bits and pieces. I’ll leave you with this description Nomi gives of her mother:

“There was something seething away inside of her, something fierce and unpredictable, like a saw in a birthday cake.” (p. 9)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Sig (aka Mom) permalink
    July 10, 2009 11:44 pm

    Wow- you went through that quickly. At the beginning of the book I thought this was going to be a fun read – and then it turned into a gut-wrencher. I started reading it in the parking lot of Walmart in Edmonton and remember laughing out loud at the “thanks a lot Menno” passage. There were quite a few passages I wanted to highlight.

    So…now you have to read “I am Hutterite” that is also by a Canadian woman from the Prairies and has a very different experience at living in a community that is separated from the world. Her religious group is similar in belief and background to the Mennonites.

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