Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Complicated Kindness

The title reminded me of a book called The God of Small Things (TGOST) by Arundhati Roy that I read years ago. I don't know why but I was half expecting it to be like a continuation...and in many ways it was, albeit in a very different setting.  TGOST was about twins separated in India and had the kind of subtle observations of situations that burrowed deep into your memory so that you forget that they are part of the story until they come up again and reconnect with the themes the author is building.  Despite the difference in the settings (this book is in a Mennonite community somewhere in Canada), Miriam Toews' writing in A Complicated Kindness (ACK) ended up doing a similar thing. As I remember TGOST, it deals with the expression of genuine human emotions within a system that subverts some such natural feelings. This was also a theme developed in ACK. In this is novel the voice of the young person trying to make sense of what is at the surface and what is underneath, is very clear, unique, and, -at times, painfully awkward.  What I really liked was that through all the confusion and tension, there was always a really clear, gentle, and endearing love that bonds the family.  I wouldn't say that it was easy reading but I laughed out loud at parts and thoroughly enjoyed it despite the teenage angst.

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