In this stunning coming-of-age novel, award-winner Miriam Toews balances grief and hope in the voice of a witty, beleaguered teenager whose family is shattered by fundamentalist Christianity
"Half of our family, the better-looking half, is missing," Nomi Nickel tells us at the beginning of A Complicated Kindness. Left alone with her sad, peculiar father, her days are spent piecing together why her mother and sister have disappeared and contemplating her inevitable career at Happy Family Farms, a chicken slaughterhouse on the outskirts of East Village. Not the East Village in New York City where Nomi would prefer to live, but an oppressive town founded by Mennonites on the cold, flat plains of Manitoba, Canada.
This darkly funny novel is the world according to the unforgettable Nomi, a bewildered and wry sixteen-year-old trapped in a town governed by fundamentalist religion and in the shattered remains of a family it destroyed. In Nomi's droll, refreshing voice, we're told the story of an eccentric, loving family that falls apart as each member lands on a collision course with the only community any of them have ever known. A work of fierce humor and tragedy by a writer who has taken the American market by storm, this searing, tender, comic testament to family love will break your heart.
"Miriam Toews has written a novel shot through with aching sadness, the spectre of loss, and unexpected humor.... It might seem an odd metaphor to use about someone who has authored such a vivid, anguished indictment of religious fundamentalism, but Miriam Toews writes like an angel." -David Rakoff, author of Fraud
"Nomi Nickel is a sassy 16-year-old whose mother and sister have bolted from their Mennonite community, leaving Nomi with her off-kilter father in a repressive town where rebellion is severely punished." -O, The Oprah Magazine
"Miriam Toews's brilliant third novel, A Complicated Kindness...is told in Nomi's cocky, brooding voice." -New York Times Book Review
"There have been a lot of Holden Caulfield knockoffs since 1951, but few authors have been as successful as J.D. Salinger in channeling adolescent angst in a way that's as charming as it is profound. Miriam Toews hits that elusive mark with her new novel. In fact, A Complicated Kindness just may be a future classic in its own right." -Philadelphia Inquirer
"At times [Nomi is] all bravado and sardonic wit regarding her faith, but beneath that is a 16-year-old who's spent sleepless nights praying for her family's salvation. By way of Jesus Christ or John Lennon, she's never quite sure." -Ruminator Review
"In Toews's canny hands, Nomi is as vivid and exasperating as any teenager running amok." -Seattle Times
"The wry 16-year-old, trapped in a tiny Mennonite community in southern Manitoba, earns readers' sympathy and adoration from her first angst-drenched rage." -Bloomsbury Review
"Offering incisive reflections on life, death and Lou Reed, the black-sheep Nomi is clearly wise beyond her years, and her voice is unique. The road to anywhere else may be rough for her, but her angst-ridden journey is unforgettable." -People Magazine