A Complicated Kindness

Toews, Miriam, 1964-

(Book - 2004)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
A Complicated Kindness
Baker & 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.

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 religious fundamentalists, 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: 1582433216
Branch Call Number: FIC T
Characteristics: 246 p. ; 22 cm.


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Mar 01, 2015
  • kancruze rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

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.

Oct 22, 2014
  • 0Charlie rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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.

Jun 21, 2013
  • zaire189 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

What a captivating book!

Apr 21, 2013
  • britprincess1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I was intrigued and pulled into this book. It isn't conventional and the storyline doesn't follow many rules, but the immersion into the troublesome life of Mennonite teen Nomi spoke to me. I wouldn't consider myself rebellious, when I was a teen nor now, but her personality was one of interest, regardless. I think, in essence, this point of her life was a learning experience and she made mistakes in a society that was unaccepting of adolescent experimentation. I think the prose was beautiful and that Miriam Toews's debut was worth all its acclaim. I would definitely recommend this book.

May 28, 2012
  • spudwil rated this: 0.5 stars out of 5.

I found it very boring and depressing. The story did not seem to progress. Disappointing.

Apr 29, 2012
  • Nerak rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Coming from the same Russian Mennonite background as the characters, I found the book too close to the truth and therefore depressing. The story lacked hope. Ironically, I found her non-fiction account of her father's suicide (Swing Low) more hopeful.

Apr 25, 2012
  • elinpat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Toews is dependable for a good story. Again girl in Menonite household in canada. Brutal father. See catalogue comments and reviews.

Dec 22, 2011
  • vwruleschick rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Nomi is this teenage girl who lives with her dad in a Mennonite community in outside of Winnipeg. You hear about her closed off life and community and colorful family members. Then one day her sister takes off and then her mom disappears. It really is a story composed of elaborate interconnected parts that make up Nomi's life. Unfortunately, nothing great - just thought it was weird, but will try her other books.

Dec 11, 2011
  • gloryb rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Miriam Toews has a remarkable ability to aptly pick out the smallest details in her character's life and then poignantly describe these moments with a touch of humour. I stand in awe of this ability of hers which is continually evident in each of her novels. Her novels, to me, all "sound the same" with that wonderful chatty voice of hers coming through her characters. I know that her young adult characters are at a turning point in their lives as they work through some life changing problem...usually a social issue... and receive some illumination about themselves, their families, their friends, and their community. I would have liked more info on the dad character. He seems so weird, yet he is a grade 6 teacher. I would have preferred him to be a farmer or a business owner.

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Jul 21, 2010
  • taraw104 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Coarse Language: This title contains Coarse Language.


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