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3.3 out of 5 stars
A Complicated Kindness
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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2006
Miriam Toews' novel, A Complicated Kindness, is an intriguing, almost voyeuristic look into an unfamiliar culture. It is essentially about a young girl's life growing up in an oppressive, small town, where her family and community are trapped in legalistic religious traditions. It is an example of how, in this case Christianity, but any religion for that matter, can destroy a family and community when the essential love, hope and forgiveness are removed from the tenets of their faith. Still, Toews is careful to show that even the most messed up religious fanatics have their own brand of kindness--however complicated it may be. The book held my interest throughout as I felt a strong empathy for the heroine and her family. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about religion gone amuck, other people's culture, or a young woman coming of age in difficult circumstances. Here's a warning though: it is not for those looking for an uplifting, light read or a tidy and hope-filled ending, as it is injected with sardonic humour and biting realism throughout the book.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2004
This very excellent funny and heart wrenching narrative captures the essence of adolescence: how stifling social pressure to conform can be, the longing for adulthood mixed with the fear of leaving childhood behind, the confusion upon discovering how ridiculous and contradictory many aspects of adult life are, the recognition of the randomness of life (and death and love and loss) while trying to come to terms with the meaning of your own existence.
I agree with the first reviewer, I am compelled to re-read the book again immediately.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2009
Sometimes the jacket blurbs get it right.

This is a gem of a book. (I can't bring myself to call it a 'novel'. Maybe 'slices of fictional memoir' is how I'd label it.) Its narrator's voice is stunning, absolutely authentic, unfailingly truthful, bearing all the insight 'and ignorance' that all great taletellers possess.

Being staggered by an author's skills, their chutzpah, a singularity of expression...these are what I hope for every time I sit down to read a new offering. And I was repeatedly staggered by Ms Toew's 'A Complicated Kindness'. But I was never patronized, I never felt that the first-person narrative got precious, or self-involved; the teenaged perspective of Nomi Nickel rang true, and was expressed as cleanly as if you were listening to the gal share her story on a bus downtown, or a cross-country train, or in a booth at a diner.

Phenomenal.

(Personal rating: 9.5/10)
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2005
I thought that this book was quite hard to get into at the beginning. It started out pretty much describing some things that you might consider as day to day details. But by the time you get to halfway, you will find that you are starting to follow the emotions of Nomi, the leading character, and cannot remove yourself from all the emotions which have been buliding up since the beginning. Although I don't quite like the ending, I still think this is a book worth reading.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2005
Sometimes bleak, sometimes outrageously funny A COMPLICATED KINDNESS is an excellent book. Fans of authors who capture the comedy and drama of youthful angst with honesty and vividness (as with MY FRACTURED LIFE or PREP), will devour this book. It is enjoyably paced and the characters are rich and rewarding.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2007
While a look at fundamentalist thinking and how it is harmful is to be applauded, and I DO applaud it, the style of writing seemed distant to me and I couldn't warm up to this the way I wanted to. While I did enjoy it and I would recommend it for its content, I might suggest the books "You Remind Me of Me" by Chanon, or "Middlesex" by Eugenides for something that's a little easier and more enjoyable to take on. Still, I give this book four stars.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Toews has garnered the attention of all of Canada with her Giller-nominated and Governor General-winning novel about a girl living in a fictional Mennonite town, though Toews has been a local celebrity in Manitoba for years.
Upon first reading the novel, I couldn't understand that hoopla surround the novel; the main character's narrative is (at times) confusing and disjointed. However, upon beginning the book again, I was able to appreciate the structure of the novel. Toews accurately captures the rebelliousness of youth, with the background of East Village creating an interesting juxtaposition. Toews' depiction of teenage angst set in the most conservative of settings is a wonderful concept, and her writing captures the conflict and confusion of youth. The book is so well executed that one begins to believe that this is actually written by a teen living in a sufferingly-constrictive society. Also recommended: Toews' first novel, Summer of My Amazing Luck.
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3 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I was attracted to the begining page- begining sentence. it was funny, amusing.
This book, reminds me of The Lovely Bones, both main characters are..somewhat not happy (understatement?) They both..i can't even think straight to define them.
But, this book, reminds me of a wonderfully dry summer's day. out in the desert. few grass sprouting harshly ticking your leg because you're laying down reading it.
It's definitly amusing (funny) at some points.
many people rave about it but i'm honestly..lukewarm. i guess i can see how its popular but none of my cries out. i mean, i was a little surprised about her situation. her family keeps leaving..
the ending statement is very.. *breathes deeply and exhales shakily* kind of feeling.
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