- 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: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #151,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Kindness of Strangers Paperback – Jan 2 2007
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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.
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.
Top customer reviews
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. Nate steps up to the plate for Jordan by encouraging Sarah to take him in as a foster child. Once the bandages and red tape are cut away, the family can heal and bond. The Ladens are clearly Laden with love and step up to the plate for Jordan. I especially loved Nate. One part that made me smile was how Nate and Jordan really got into venting their anger at Jordan's parents, who were truly monstrous.
This is an excellent book, a genuine page turner. The garden theme/persistent images is very effective. I highly recommend this book, especially for its realistic and sensitive treatment of a very painful topic. Katrina Kittle is certainly an author to watch out for. This book is outstanding.
A must read!
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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