Sunday, September 13, 2015

O Canada! The Best Canadian Books ~ A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews


This a story about a 16-year-old girl living through the collapse of her family in a strict Mennonite community. Nomi's older sister leaves town. Nomi's mother leaves soon after. Her father is dealing with his own despair, leading to selling all their furniture and driving around all night and basically disappearing into himself. Nomi's despair exhibits through her rebellion against her community . . . drugs, drinking, quitting school and church.

Surprisingly this novel sounds just too sad to read but the author gives Nomi a voice that is brisk, biting and sardonic.  It really is a good read.


"One of the major themes in A Complicated Kindness is the practice of the ban, or shunning, common to Mennonite and related Christian communities. This form of excommunication is at the heart of what led to the breakup of the Nickel family. Originally a way to avoid bloodshed, the pacifist tactic of shunning is, as Miriam Toews’s title suggests, “a complicated kindness.” By excluding those who come into conflict with the community, shunning can destroy the relationship between neighbors and, as in the case of the Nickel family, cruelly divide family members." http://www.enotes.com/topics/complicated-kindness/themes

I recommend this book.

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