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The Kindness Of Strangers [Paperback]

Katrina Kittle
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 21 2006

A young widow raising two boys, Sarah Laden is struggling to keep her family together. But when a shocking revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another troubled young boy into her already tumultuous life.

Jordan, a quiet, reclusive elementary school classmate of Sarah's son Danny, has survived a terrible ordeal. By agreeing to become Jordan's foster mother, Sarah will be forced to question the things she has long believed. And as the delicate threads that bind their family begin to unravel, all the Ladens will have to face difficult truths about themselves and one another—and discover the power of love necessary to forgive and to heal.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Master caterer Sarah Laden is barely holding her life together as a widow with two difficult sons—recalcitrant teen Nate and troubled fifth-grader Danny—when the unthinkable happens. Her best friend and neighbor, Courtney Kendrick, is arrested in a child sex abuse scandal. Courtney's husband has vanished; their 11-year-old son, Jordan, is in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt; and across the street Nate is finding, in Jordan's backpack, evidence of unthinkable abuse. Kittle (Traveling Light; Two Truths and a Lie) crafts a disturbing but compelling story line, as Sarah, Nate and Jordan uncover and come to terms with the horror in alternating chapters. Sarah, for instance, is shocked to learn that she dropped off food for the Kendricks' sex parties; Jordan must decide whether or not he wants to continue a relationship with his mother—who insists she's innocent—if and when she gets acquitted. Kittle's research sits awkwardly in expository dialogue—"One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their eighteenth birthdays," intones the detective who will later become Sarah's love interest—but it doesn't slow the momentum. Though the movement is toward healing, there are bumpy roads ahead for everybody in this melodramatic but gripping read. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sarah Laden is a widow with two sons, Nate and Danny, and a thriving catering business. Her best friend, Courtney, helped her through the horrible days after her husband's death and is always there when she's needed. Her son, Jordan, is even Danny's best friend. Then one day all that changes. In a nightmare chain of events, Sarah discovers that she really didn't know Courtney at all and poor, odd Jordan has been living a hell no one could imagine. As Courtney waits in jail, Sarah decides at the request of her older son, Nate, to take on the foster care of Jordan, with all its painful ramifications. Child sexual abuse is hard to read about and Kittle sometimes gets a little heavy-handed with her facts and statistics. But told through the perspectives of Sarah, Nate, Danny, and Jordan, this is ultimately an attractive story of ordinary people trying to make the best of an awful situation and finding the healing power of love and forgiveness in the process. Elizabeth Dickie
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laden With Love Nov. 5 2007
By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Sarah, a widow and mother of Nate, 17 and Danny, 11 runs a thriving catering business. She is also a master chef and maker of wedding cakes and is held in high esteem in her suburban Oakhaven Ohio community.

Her neighbor, Courtney, an obstetrician has extended friendship to Sarah during her bereavement. Courtney's son Jordan, also 11 is friends with Danny and is Danny's classmate. Courtney tells Sarah that she thinks Jordan has Asperger's Syndrome, the spectrum partner to autism as he is sorely lacking in social skills.

But does he have Asperger's? Or is Jordan's behavior reflective of external circumstances rather than internal ones? A rainy day encounter with Jordan washes away all illusions that Sarah once had about Courtney. Shivering and disoriented, Jordan stands outside his house, although school has already started. Sarah offers to drive him until she realizes he is in no condition to attend. After a traumatic suicide attempt on Jordan's part, Sarah rushes him to the local hospital where medical personnel discover that the boy has been sexually abused. Ironically, it is the same hospital where Courtney works and where Sarah's husband died some two years earlier.

Layers of boils get lanced as more ugly secrets erupt, dancing out like a parade of skeletons in a closet. Not only has Jordan been abused, but so have other children. Courtney's mask of respectability has been torn off, revealing a cracked, twisted gargoyle in its place. Instead of being loving neighbors and parents, Courtney and Mark have been running a child pornography ring. Jordan, severely traumatized has developed some incredible coping skills.

As more layers of deceit get peeled away, Sarah re-evaluates herself; her neighbors and her judgment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting. March 15 2012
Format:Paperback
I really didn't know the subject of this book when I picked it up. Rarely have I seen such a sensitive, voir taboo subject handled with grace and a true understanding of the feelings involved for the whole community. The pharagraph will leave you haunted and filled with a bitter taste of 'how is that even possible' feeling.
A must read!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Feb. 28 2012
Format:Paperback
I have never left a comment on Amazon before, but feel compelled to comment on this book. This story is about a woman, Sarah, who is coping with the death of her husband while raising her two adolescent sons. Her neighbour and best friend turns out to be, along with her husband and their friends, child molesters who do unspeakable things to their young son while she unsuspectingly caters their 'parties'. Instead of incorporating the subject of child abuse and incest in a sensitive way, it bombards the reader with sickening details of child sex parties; details which unwittingly imprint themselves on even the most sophisticated reader. To make matters worse, the book cover in no way hints at the subject matter, which is frustrating for a reader looking for an interesting thriller and ends up with a disturbing story of incest that is thoughtlessly combined with cooking and romance. I can't recall the last time I was so put off by a work of fiction - I will not be passing this book on to friends or keeping it in my library.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Sensitive Subject Handled Very Badly March 2 2012
Format:Hardcover
The very graphic details were completely unnecessary and coupled with a lead character who was being courted by two "hunky" men she met because they were involved professionally in the case. When you delve into a topic like this, you need to handle it so carefully - not turn it into a romance/horror story peppered with recipes. Yuck.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected and Shocking July 12 2012
Format:Paperback
This booked shocked the hell out of me. The details were disturbing and very sad, but I still couldnt put it down. I had no idea the story was going to take this kind of turn, so be prepared for details that will make you cringe. I still enjoyed this book, but I had no idea what I was in for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down Jan. 21 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
How Courtney used Sarah was fascinating, how Jordan dealt with the abuse, and the writing from his view was wonderful. Thank you Katrina, I will look for your next book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The kindness of Strangers Nov. 16 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It has been awhile since i read this book, but I did enjoy it.The theme of not really knowing people who are close you brings up some tragic revelations .
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a pleasant surprise! Oct. 11 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a page turner. A heavy subject but well written. I would recommend this book to all even those how have experienced hardship in their younger years.
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