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Showing posts from 2014

"Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," by Cheryl Strayed.

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"Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," by Cheryl Strayed. At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
This book was our December 2014 choice for our book club.  I had been looking forward to reading this since I had joined the club as this is my type of book, and I wasn't disappointed.  I had read …

"The Cellist of Sarajevo," by Steven Galloway

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"The Cellist of Sarajevo," by Steven Galloway


One day a shell lands in a bread line and kills twenty-two people as the cellist watches from a window in his flat. He vows to sit in the hollow where the mortar fell and play Albinoni’s Adagio once a day for each of the twenty-two victims. The Adagio had been re-created from a fragment after the only extant score was firebombed in the Dresden Music Library, but the fact that it had been rebuilt by a different composer into something new and worthwhile gives the cellist hope.

Meanwhile, Kenan steels himself for his weekly walk through the dangerous streets to collect water for his family on the other side of town, and Dragan, a man Kenan doesn’t know, tries to make his way towards the source of the free meal he knows is waiting. Both men are almost paralyzed with fear, uncertain when the next shot will land on the bridges or streets they must cross, unwilling to talk to their old friends of what life was once like before divisions …

"The Secret of Pembrooke Park," by Julie Klassen

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"The Secret of Pembrooke Park," by Julie Klassen

Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play...

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping t…

"Love Unexpected," by Jody Hedlund

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"Love Unexpected," by Jody Hedlund

1859 Presque Isle, Michigan
What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives?

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she's left destitute and with no place to stay.
An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He's just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other's dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.
Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife's death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could…

"A Most Inconvenient Marriage, " by Regina Jennings

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"A Most Inconvenient Marriage, " by Regina Jennings


Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun's Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.


Most Inconvenient Indeed.

With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he's gone--a practical solution for both of them.

After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain--until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail's story. Abigail is flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she's never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn't trying to steal his farm? And will she find a …
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"Stolen," by Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD with Cecil Murphey

There is hope, even on the darkest of days
Katariina Rosenblatt was a lonely and abused young girl, yearning to be loved, wanting attention. That made her the perfect target. On an ordinary day, she met a confident young woman--someone Kat wished she could be like--who pretended to be a friend while slowly luring her into a child trafficking ring. A cycle of false friendships, threats, drugs, and violence kept her trapped.

As Kat shares her harrowing experiences, her ultimate escape, and her passionate efforts to now free other victims, you'll see that not only is sex trafficking happening frighteningly close to home--it's also something that can be stopped. Stolen is a warning, a celebration of survival, and a beacon of hope that will inspire you.


As a person who has never had to go through this nightmare, I found it difficult to relate too, to start with, but the further you get into this book, the angrier I g…

"The Brickmaker's Bride," by Judith Miller

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"The Brickmaker's Bride," by Judith Miller

In the clay-rich hills of the newly founded state of West Virginia, two families tentatively come together to rebuild a war-torn brickmaking business.

Ewan McKay has immigrated to West Virginia with his aunt and uncle, promising to trade his skills in the clay business for financial help. Uncle Hugh purchases a brickmaking operation from a Civil War widow and her daughter, and it's Ewan's job to get the company up and running again.

Ewan seeks help from Laura, the former owner's daughter, and he quickly feels a connection with her, but she's being courted by another man--a lawyer with far more social clout and money than Ewan. Resolving that he'll make the brickworks enough of a success that he can become a partner in the business and be able to afford to bring his sisters over from Ireland, Ewan pours all his energy into the new job.

But when Hugh signs a bad business deal, all Ewan's hard work is put in j…

"The Patmos Deception," by Davis Bunn

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"The Patmos Deception," by Davis Bunn

An Ancient Island Holds an Ancient Secret . . .
Nick Hennessy, 
a young Texas journalist yearning for his big break, finds himself in Europe--his assignment, to investigate the alarming disappearance of invaluable Grecian antiquities. Nick has the credentials--and cover ID--to unearth the truth. And he knows just the researcher to help him...

Carey Mathers, fresh from her studies in forensic archeology, has accepted a job with the prestigious Athens Institute for Antiquities--a dream come true, really, particularly when the Greek isle of Patmos, where the Apostle John received his vision of the Apocalypse, was a particular focus of her research.

Dimitri Rubinos, for whomthe Greek islands represent his life, holds on by his fingernails to the family charter boat business. But his country's economicchaos isn't the only thing that has turned his world on its head...


I did not like the ending of this book.  It left you in mid air to my min…

"At Bluebonnet Lake," by Amanda Cabot

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"At Bluebonnet Lake," by Amanda Cabot

Her life is set to warp speed. His is slowing to a crawl. But love has its own timing.

Marketing maven Kate Sherwood's world is fast-paced, challenging, and always changing. The last thing she wants to do is grind to a halt at Rainbow's End, a dilapidated resort in the Texas Hill Country. Still, she cannot deny her ailing grandmother's request to visit the place where she and her deceased husband spent one glorious week fifty years ago. There, Kate meets Greg, who appears to be the resort's unassuming handyman. But there's more to Greg than meets the eye--billions more, in fact.

Kate isn't looking for romance, but she can't deny the sparks of attraction that fly every time she and Greg are together. Could there be a future there? Or will Kate's long-sought promotion take her back to the big city?


I think a lot of people will relate to this story, especially those with fast paced lives.  This book will slow dow…

"Playing by Heart," by Anne Mateer

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"Playing by Heart," by Anne Mateer
Lula Bowman has finally achieved her dream: a teaching position and a scholarship to continue her college education in mathematics. But then a shocking phone call from her sister, Jewel, changes everything.

With a heavy heart, Lula returns to her Oklahoma hometown to do right by her sister, but the only teaching job available in Dunn is combination music instructor/basketball coach. Lula doesn't even consider those real subjects!

Determined to prove herself, Lula commits to covering the job for the rest of the school year. Reluctantly, she turns to the boys' coach, Chet, to learn the newfangled game of basketball. Chet is handsome and single, but Lula has no plans to fall for a local boy. She's returning to college and her scholarship as soon as she gets Jewel back on her feet.

However, the more time she spends around Jewel's family, the girls' basketball team, music classes, and Chet, the more Lula comes to realize what she…

"The Storied Life of A.J. Firky," by Gabrielle Zevin

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"The Storied Life of A.J. Firky," by Gabrielle Zevin


Hanging over the porch of the tiny New England bookstore called Island Books is a faded sign with the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A.J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming him or for a determined sales rep named Ame…
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"The Book Thief," by Markus Zusak

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement. 


If I had to describe this book in one word it would be DEPRESSING.  Now that's not to say it was a terrible book; it's not a book to make you feel happy.  Of course the topic of this book is not one of joy.  Also it doesn't help the situation when you discover Death narrates this story as well.

I found the book to be a bit choppy, with the story jumping about a bit.  Liesel was a very strong character and despite Rosa's (Mama) way and language I en…

"What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days," by Holley Gerth

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"What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days," by Holley Gerth
We all have days that make us want to pull the covers back over our heads and eat a dozen cupcakes.

Thankfully, Jesus said we don't "live on bread alone"--that includes cupcakes--"but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). What we really need is truth.

If you're tired, discouraged, or feel a little empty inside, my prayer is that by the end of our time together, you'll be refreshed and nourished in a way that will sustain you through whatever the future may hold.

Remember, you're not alone, my friend.

In this uplifting book, Holley Gerth invites you to be filled with the strength, peace, and joy that come from God's promises. Each of the 52 devotions based on the Psalms will help you remember that God is good and we're all in this together. 

This is a cute looking book is it not?  It's such a fun and happy looking book it makes you want to pick it up.…

"The River," by Beverly Lewis

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"The River," by Beverly Lewis
She looked once more at the dreaded river. Since Anna's death, it had been such a barrier . . . a place and a moment she could not seem to move past.

A line I can't move beyond...
The River

Tilly and Ruth, two formerly Amish sisters, are plagued by unresolved relationships when they reluctantly return to Lancaster County for their parents' landmark wedding anniversary. Since departing their Plain upbringing, Tilly has married an Englisher, but Ruth remains single and hasn't entirely forgotten her failed courtship with her Amish beau.

Past meets present as Tilly and Ruth yearn for acceptance and redemption. Can they face the future in the light of a past they can't undo?


I liked how this book was written from both sides of the Amish life.  Tilly and Ruth's characters were well thought out and very believable.  The confusing feeling they experienced from returning to see their parents after being away from the Pla…

"A Light in the Wilderness," by Jane Kirkpatrick

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"A Light in the Wilderness," by Jane Kirkpatrick

Three very different women. One dangerous journey. And a future that seems just out of reach.
Letitia holds nothing more dear than the papers that prove she is no longer a slave. They may not cause most white folks to treat her like a human being, but at least they show she is free. She trusts in those words she cannot read--as she is beginning to trust in Davey Carson, an Irish immigrant cattleman who wants her to come west with him.

Nancy Hawkins is loathe to leave her settled life for the treacherous journey by wagon train, but she is so deeply in love with her husband and she knows she will follow him anywhere--even when the trek exacts a terrible cost.

Betsy is a Kalapuya Indian, the last remnant of a once proud tribe in the Willamette Valley in Oregon territory. She spends her time trying to impart the wisdom and ways of her people to her grandson. But she will soon have another person to care for.

As season turns to season, …

"Tried and True," by Mary Connealy

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"Tried and True," by Mary Connealy

Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!

Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"--but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future?


I read this book in a day.  It is a light hearted book with fun charact…

"Secret Daughter: A Novel," by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

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"Secret Daughter: A Novel," by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Somer's life is everything she imagined it would be — she's newly married and has started her career as a physician in San Francisco — until she makes the devastating discovery she never will be able to have children.

The same year in India, a poor mother makes the heartbreaking choice to save her newborn daughter's life by giving her away. It is a decision that will haunt Kavita for the rest of her life, and cause a ripple effect that travels across the world and back again.

Asha, adopted out of a Mumbai orphanage, is the child that binds the destinies of these two women. We follow both families, invisibly connected until Asha's journey of self-discovery leads her back to India.

Compulsively readable and deeply touching, SECRET DAUGHTER is a story of the unforeseen ways in which our choices and families affect our lives, and the indelible power of love in all its many forms.

Be warned once you start this book you…

"One Thousand White Women," by Jim Fergus

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"One Thousand White Women," by Jim Fergus
One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.

I think my one big regret for this book is it is fiction and therefore Mary Dodd's journal's are not real.  I so wanted Mary and her friends to be actual people who actually lived in the late 1800's, as each one of them felt like "real" people that you would want to know and love.  I enjoyed the way the author brought eac…

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter," by Kim Edwards

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"The Memory Keeper's Daughter," by Kim Edwards
Kim Edwards’s stunning novel begins on a winter night in 1964 in Lexington, Kentucky, when a blizzard forces Dr. David Henry to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy, but the doctor immediately recognizes that his daughter has Down syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse, Caroline, to take the baby away to an institution and never to reveal the secret. Instead, she disappears into another city to raise the child herself. So begins this beautifully told story that unfolds over a quarter of a century—in which these two families, ignorant of each other, are yet bound by the fateful decision made that winter night long ago.

A family drama, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter explores every mother's silent fear: What would happen if you lost your child and she grew up without you? It is al…

"No Time For Goodbye," by Linwood Barclay

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"No Time For Goodbye," by Linwood Barclay


Fourteen-year-old Cynthia Bigge woke one morning to discover that her entire family–mother, father,brother–had vanished. No note, no trace, no return. Ever.  Now, twenty-five years later, she’ll learn the devastating truth.

Sometimes it’s better not to know. . . .

Cynthia is happily married with a young daughter, a new family. But the story of her old family isn’t over. A strange car in the neighborhood, untraceable phone calls, ominous “gifts”–someone has returned to her hometown to finish what was started twenty-five years ago. And no one’s innocence is guaranteed, not even her own. By the time Cynthia discovers her killer’s shocking identity, it will again be too late . . . even for goodbye.

This is our book for our September book club meeting.  I normally read the book a few days before the meeting, but decided to read this earlier for some reason.  I have never read any books by Linwood Barclay before so didn't know what to exp…

"Surviving Henry," by Erin Taylor Young

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"Surviving Henry," by Erin Taylor Young


Sometimes you seek out love. And sometimes it broadsides you.
You don't always know what you're getting into when you bring home a puppy. You hope for laughs and cuddles, long walks and a wagging tail. And sometimes you get . . . Henry.

Henry is a boxer who suffers from Supreme Dictator of the Universe Syndrome. He vandalizes his obedience school, leaps through windows, cheats death at every turn, and generally causes his long-suffering owner Erin Taylor Young to wonder what on earth she did wrong that God would send this dog to derail her life.

But this rogue torpedo of a dog wasn't sent to torment his owner--well, not just to torment her. Through all the hair-pulling and questioning of her own sanity, Erin learns something very powerful from Henry, a dog who brings new meaning to the concept of unconditional love.

Through his laugh-out-loud antics and jaw-dropping escapades, Henry will careen into your life and steal your hear…

"Blind Trust," by Sandra Orchard

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"Blind Trust," by Sandra Orchard
Kate's not sure how deep this deception goes--but she'll do whatever it takes to find out.
Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money and can't believe that it came from her sweet elderly neighbor. Or that it has landed her in the middle of another of Detective Tom Parker's investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor's innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation--and one that strikes too close to home for comfort.

As family secrets come to light, her world--and her budding romance with Tom--begin to crumble. To Kate, it's clear that she won't be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster's secrets. But then will it be too late for her and Tom?


If you haven't already, I do feel you need to read the first book in this series Deadly Devotion  It will be easier to understand what has happened prior to reading Blind Trust.  This book takes a whi…

"A Place in His Heart," by Rebecca DeMarino

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"A Place in His Heart," by Rebecca DeMarino
Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Left at the altar and disgraced in her small hamlet, she is being pressured to marry the eligible son of the London milliner. Puritan Barnabas Horton still grieves the loss of his beloved wife, but he knows his two young sons need a mother.

With tender hearts, Mary and Barnabas take a leap of faith and wed. But when Barnabas's secret plans to move his family to the New World to escape persecution come to light, Mary's world is upended. How could she possibly leave her papa and her dear sister?

And will she ever reach the secret places of her husband's broken heart?


I really enjoyed this book.  It's from a period of history we learned about at school.  Saying that this book covered a lot more of the religious aspect that I don't remember learning about.

The lead characters Mary and Barnabas as well suited for one another and Mary especially, a very brave and adventurous…

"With Every Breath," by Elizabeth Camden

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"With Every Breath," by Elizabeth Camden
In the shadow of the nation's capital, Kate Livingston's respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she'd hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor's risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor's past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor's closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and l…

"Miracle in a Dry Season," by Sarah Loudin Thomas

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"Miracle in a Dry Season," by Sarah Loudin Thomas

It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.


What a wonderful book this is.  It reminds me of the story from the Bible,  feeding the 5000.  However it is a more modern story and one which shows how much kindness people can give and show…

"Truth Be Told," by Carol Cox

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"Truth Be Told," by Carol Cox
When Amelia Wagner takes over her father's newspaper in 1893 Granite Springs, Arizona, she vows to carry on the paper's commitment to reporting only the truth. But Amelia soon learns that even the truth can have serious consequences. Her father's revealing articles about the Great Western Investment Company have caught the attention of the wrong people, and pressure mounts for Amelia to retract her father's statements.

Determined to find out the real story, Amelia begins her own investigation. She's joined by Benjamin Stone, a Great Western employee who's been assigned to keep tabs on her for the good of the company, a man Amelia finds both perplexing and intriguing.

What they uncover stuns them both--and has far-reaching implications for not only Ben and Amelia but all of Granite Springs. Can they reveal the truth before the enemy finds a way to silence them for good?


This book is a light hearted read that doesn't take m…

"A Complicated Kindness," by Miriam Toews

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"A Complicated Kindness," by Miriam Toews
Sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel longs to hang out with Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull in New York City’s East Village. Instead she’s trapped in East Village, Manitoba, a small town whose population is Mennonite: “the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you’re a teenager.” East Village is a town with no train and no bar whose job prospects consist of slaughtering chickens at the Happy Family Farms abattoir or churning butter for tourists at the pioneer village. Ministered with an iron fist by Nomi’s uncle Hans, a.k.a. The Mouth of Darkness, East Village is a town that’s tall on rules and short on fun: no dancing, drinking, rock ’n’ roll, recreational sex, swimming, make-up, jewellery, playing pool, going to cities or staying up past nine o’clock.

As the novel begins, Nomi struggles to cope with the back-to-back departures three years earlier of Tash, her beautiful and mouthy sister, and Trudie, her warm and spirited mothe…