A Complicated Kindness

A Complicated Kindness

A Novel

Book - 2004
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Baker & Taylor
Doomed to work at the Happy Family Farm, a chicken slaughterhouse in a town run by religious fundamentalists, sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel nevertheless manages to bear witness to the dissolution of her family with a dark, sly wit.

Perseus Publishing
A landmark literary novel, balancing unbearable sadness and beauty in the voice of a witty, beleaguered teen-ager whose family is destroyed by fundamentalist Christianity

Blackwell North Amer
Welcome to the world of Nomi Nickel, a tough, wry young woman trapped in a small Mennonite town that seeks to set her on the path to righteousness and smother her at the same time. In this work, Miriam Toews explores the intricate binds of family, and the forces that tear them apart.
"Half of our family, the better-looking half, is missing," Nomi tells us at the beginning of A Complicated Kindness. Left alone with her father Ray, her days are spent piecing together the reasons her mother, Trudie, and her sister, Natasha, have gone missing, and trying to figure out what she can do to avoid a career at Happy Family Farms, a chicken abattoir on the outskirts of East Village - not the neighbourhood in Manhattan where Nomi most wants to live, but the small town in southern Manitoba. Boasting such attractions as a Main Street that goes nowhere and a replica pioneer village that hearkens back to the days when life was simple, and citizens who didn't live by the book were routinely shunned, East Village is ministered by the fiercely pious Hans, or as Nomi calls her uncle, The Mouth.
As Nomi gets to the bottom of the truth behind her mother's and sister's disappearances, she finds herself on a direct collision course with her uncle and the only community she has ever known. But one startling act of defiance brings the novel to its shattering conclusion.

& Taylor

Doomed to work at the Happy Family Farm, a chicken slaughterhouse in a town run by a Mennonite community, sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel nevertheless manages to bear witness to the dissolution of her family with a dark, sly wit.

Publisher: New York : Counterpoint, c2004
ISBN: 9781582433219
Branch Call Number: FICTION TOEWS
Characteristics: 246 p. ; 22 cm


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Mar 06, 2017

This is one of my very favourite books and my favourite Miriam Toews book. Such an interesting story of growing up in a truly bizarre setting, and how this affects a young mind and a family. The title is just excellent for this book, describing the complicated kindness of the people in the narrator's town. Even more compelling is that it is semi-autobiographical. A book that made me laugh and cry, sometimes on the same page, through finding humour in the darkest moments - Toewes's finest talent. Recommended if you liked Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Feb 18, 2017

It is hard to write stream of consciousness book well, but Toews does. 16-year-old Nomi is lost but not just in the "typical teenager" lost sort of way. Two of the most important figures in her life have left her: her older sister and her mother. To top that all off, she lives in a conservative Mennonite town in Canada. She is not only struggling to understand the world around her as a typical teenager would but as a teenager going through a huge family crisis that leaves her questioning life, love, family, and what to do with herself.

The book is laugh-out-loud funny with Nomi's dry sense of humor and also tragically sad in its reflection of life and loss.

I feel it is thought provoking, introspective, and worth reading. I recommend this book to others.

Jan 30, 2017

It is hard to pinpoint why this book left me feeling 'eh', kind of flat. There were clever lines, funny moments and poignant scenes. For the most part, I found the juxtaposition of past and present vaguely annoying and slightly confusing, never quite sure if we were in a past or present moment. I can see why it would appeal to some, but I would not be quick to recommend it to many readers.

K_ROK Jun 09, 2015

I really tried to get into this book but I just couldn't finish. Perhaps because I was waiting for something grand/exciting to happen but I was too bored by the mundane prose. I did not even make it half way. The main character lacked a bit of depth with me and I had some sympathy at first, but then the main character got lazy and seemed to give up a bit and so did I.

AmberKlassen May 07, 2015

This novel has a lot of truths in it, but is merely the depiction of an adolescent who did not like her life and took no control or responsibility for her own actions.

Disappointed because there is not much to read about this unique culture/religion in Canada.

The star rating is for personal reference.

Apr 25, 2015

I found the book to be quite sad, and lacking hope for the characters. At the beginning there was a bit of humour inserted in the story, which helped keep me reading, but that lessened as the book progressed and I found the second half harder to read.

Mar 01, 2015

Did not find this book interesting. Her style of prose did not keep my interest either. I was as bored with it after the first few chapters just as the main character was bored. I figured out what was going to happen and read the last few pages and was right.

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 19, 2015

The pain of loss enfolds Nomi Nickel--teenage girl, confused Mennonite, and motherless daughter. Nomi is consumed by her struggle to understand why first her sister, and then her mother, would leave their relatively happy family, and just disappear into the night. Desperately latching onto Travis, a fellow teen also trying to see beyond the bonds of Mennonite righteousness, Nomi falls deeper into sorrowful rebellion. Only her father’s drastic sacrifice to save her brings Nomi to a place where she can contemplate the opportunity to be reunified with her family “somewhere in the real world”…which is not Main Street, Manitoba. This is a wonderful story of redemption, written with a poignancy and humour that make it bearable.

0Charlie Oct 22, 2014

What a wonderful main character - she has so many great one-liners! As I was reading this work, I kept saying to myself "nothing has happened" but it was still very entertaining. As cliched as it sounds, the power of love can change lives for the better. Highly recommended for anyone who feels like an outsider in their own world.

AD_Library Oct 22, 2014

Great writing!

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Jul 21, 2010

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.


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