A Complicated Kindness

I live with my father, Ray Nickel, in that low brick bungalow out on highway number twelve.

A Complicated Kindness tells about a small village with only Mennonites as its inhabitants. Mennonites think that the only reason you live is to die and join God in heaven, so it’s a pretty bleak place without hopes, passion or anything that could be considered fun.

Maybe it’s a compliment to Toews to say that that message comes across very well.  Main character Nomi doesn’t do anything, does care but in a very passive way and can only wait for an end, any end.  This weighs down on the reader in such a way that you will probably feel relief after you have finished this story. Next to this they are two gaps in the story, the disappearance of both Nomi’s sister and mother. There is no story about where, why or how, the fact is that they’re gone and Nomi and her father will have to deal with this.

I usually don’t flat out tell people to not read a book, but with this one ..don’t. I’m sure that if you want to read about Mennonites, there are other stories. If you do like to sink down in a pool of passiveness ..this is the book for you.

A Complicated Kindness, Miriam Toews, Faber and Faber 2004

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