A COMPLICATED KINDNESS – My Book of the Month – August 2019

by admin on August 19, 2019

By all accounts Miriam Toews teenage heroine, Nomi Nickel, is set fair to oust Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye hero, Holden Caulfield, from top spot in iconic teenage rites of passage.

Nomi is just as sharp, cool, funny, rebellious and endearing as Holden but there the similarity ends. He is a private-school student from an upper class, New York penthouse dwelling family. Nomi is from a lower middle class rural Mennonite family and attends, sporadically, a dreary small town  high school.

From this unpromising and stifling environment, Nomi stages a full-frontal assault on the fundamentalist religious mindset of her community, while at the same time trying to hold together her dysfunctional family, which threatens to disintegrate at any moment.

She lashes out at everyone and anyone in her struggle to put some meaning in her life, but all her attempts seem doomed to failure. Everyone she comes in contact with, appears unable to escape from traps of their own making.

The only solution, she decides, is flight but at the cost of losing everyone she loves. Her clear-sighted view of her fate is both touching and inevitable and the angst she feels is palpable.

A worthy winner of the Governor General’s Literary award.

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