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The Kindness of Strangers Paperback – Jan 2 2007

4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (Jan. 2 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060564784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060564780
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #114,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I just finished this book and as heart wrenching as the story was, I was fascinated and could barely put it down. Katrina writing is superb, the characters so real, with emotions we all can relate to. The ending left me wanting more to follow up and see what direction Jordan took and how Danny made out in life. To me,feeling so much for the characters was the sign of an excellent writer, one in tune with real life.
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By BeatleBangs1964 TOP 500 REVIEWER on Nov. 5 2007
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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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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Format: Paperback
This was my first book written by Katrina Kittle. From the first chapter I was drawn in. The writing flows, the characters most human and the subject matter, though difficult, handled intelligently and compassionately. I was sorry when the book ended.
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The first half of this book is tense, depressing and at times repugnant, dealing with a group of parents who share their children sexually in upper middle class suburbia. Jordan, the tween who has been violated, raped by both his parents and their associated deviants for five years, is the focal character of the novel. Sarah is a close friend of Courtney, Jordan's incestuous mother. Each chapter of the book bears the title of a main character, in random order, relating events from his or her point of view; these are Sarah, her two sons, Nate and Danny, as well as the victimized Jordan. This is an effective process to provide emotional and psychological insight about present and past experiences for a number of characters.

The last half of the book provides some resolution of tension and a satisfactory solution, but it is a rough ride getting there. The author, Kittle, has captured the anguish and drama of people caught in situations not of their own making. She has been brave to confront such a taboo subject but in places I felt that the characters and events narrated were straining credibility. Moreover, I thought it was significant and rather sad that religious (or spiritual) moral codes, guilt, forgiveness and conflict resolutions were conspicuous by their absence. These are people whose appreciation of religion starts with exclamatory slurs and ends with the obligatory observation of traditions. Human existence can quickly become hollow in an environment ruled by ambition, status and raw sensuality. Perhaps that is the unstated tragedy lurking behind the plot for this somber tale. However, that having been said, this is a story of the triumph of loving and generous compassion offered unconditionally by Sarah and her sons for Jordan. Well done.
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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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