A Complicated Kindness

A Complicated Kindness Description:

In this stunning coming of age novel award winner Miriam Toews balances grief and hope in the voice of a witty beleaguered teenager whose family is shattered by fundamentalist Christianity br Half of our family the better looking half is missing Nomi Nickel tells us at the beginning of A Complicated Kindness Left alone with her sad peculiar father her days are spent piecing together why her mother and sister have disappeared and contemplating her inevitable career at Happy Family Farms a chicken slaughterhouse on the outskirts of East Village Not the East Village in New York City where Nomi would prefer to live but an oppressive town founded by Mennonites on the cold flat plains of Manitoba Canada br br This darkly funny novel is the world according to the unforgettable Nomi a bewildered and wry sixteen year old trapped in a town governed by fundamentalist religion and in the shattered remains of a family it destroyed In Nomi s droll refreshing voice we re told the story of an eccentric loving family that falls apart as each member lands on a collision course with the only community any of them have ever known A work of fierce humor and tragedy by a writer who has taken the American market by storm this searing tender comic testament to family love will break your heart

Rating: 3.79 out of 5

All My Puny Sorrows

All My Puny Sorrows Description:

Miriam Toews is beloved for her irresistible voice for mingling laughter and heartwrenching poignancy like no other writer In her most passionate novel yet she brings us the riveting story of two sisters and a love that illuminates life br b b br You won t forget Elf and Yoli two smart and loving sisters Elfrieda a world renowned pianist glamorous wealthy happily married she wants to die Yolandi divorced broke sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive Yoli is a beguiling mess wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy her exes from hating her her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking br br But Elf s latest suicide attempt is a shock she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour Her long time agent has been calling and neither Yoli nor Elf s loving husband knows what to tell him Can she be nursed back to health in time Does it matter As the situation becomes ever more complicated Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life br br i All My Puny Sorrows i at once tender and unquiet offers a profound reflection on the limits of love and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities In her beautifully rendered new novel Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart

Rating: 3.51 out of 5

The Flying Troutmans

The Flying Troutmans Description:

i Min was stranded in her bed hooked on the blue torpedoes and convinced that a million silver cars were closing in on her I didn t know what Thebes meant either Logan was in trouble at school something about the disturbing stories he was writing Thebes was pretending to be Min on the phone with his principal the house was crumbling around them the black screen door had blown off in the wind a family of aggressive mice was living behind the piano the neighbours were pissed off because of hatchets being thrown into their yard at night again confusing something to do with Logan basically things were out of control And Thebes is only eleven i br from b The Flying Troutmans br br b Days after being dumped by her boyfriend Marc in Paris he was heading off to an ashram and said we could communicate telepathically Hattie hears her sister Min has been checked into a psychiatric hospital and finds herself flying back to Winnipeg to take care of Thebes and Logan her niece and nephew Not knowing what else to do she loads the kids a cooler and a pile of CDs into their van and they set out on a road trip in search of the children s long lost father Cherkis br br In part because no one has any good idea where Cherkis is the traveling matters more than the destination On their wayward eventful journey down to North Dakota and beyond the Troutmans stay at scary motels meet helpful hippies and try to ignore the threatening noises coming from under the hood of their van Eleven year old Thebes spends her time making huge novelty cheques with arts and crafts supplies in the back and won t wash no matter how wild and matted her purple hair gets she forgot to pack any clothes Four years older Logan carves phrases like Fear Yourself into the dashboard and repeatedly disappears in the middle of the night to play basketball he s in love he says with i New York Times i columnist Deborah Solomon Meanwhile Min can t be reached at the hospital and more than once Hattie calls Marc in tears br br But though it might seem like an escape from crisis into chaos this journey is also desperately necessary a chance for an accidental family to accept understand or at least find their way through overwhelming times From interwoven memories and scenes from the past we learn much more about them how Min got so sick why Cherkis left home why Hattie went to Paris and what made Thebes and Logan who they are today br br In this completely captivating book Miriam Toews has created some of the most engaging characters in Canadian literature Hattie Logan and Thebes are bewildered hopeful angry and most of all absolutely alive Full of richly skewed richly funny detail b The Flying Troutmans b is a uniquely affecting novel

Rating: 3.35 out of 5

Irma Voth

Irma Voth Description:

That rare coming of age story able to blend the dark with the uplifting Irma Voth follows a young Mennonite woman vulnerable yet wise beyond her years who carries a terrible family secret with her on a remarkable journey to survival and redemption br br Nineteen year old Irma lives in a rural Mennonite community in Mexico She has already been cast out of her family for marrying a young Mexican ne er do well she barely knows although she remains close to her rebellious younger sister and yearns for the lost intimacy with her mother With a husband who proves elusive and often absent a punishing father and a faith in God damaged beyond repair Irma appears trapped in an untenable and desperate situation When a celebrated Mexican filmmaker and his crew arrive from Mexico City to make a movie about the insular community in which she was raised Irma is immediately drawn to the outsiders and is soon hired as a translator on the set But her father intractable and domineering is determined to destroy the film and get rid of the interlopers His action sets Irma on an irrevocable path toward something that feels like freedom br br A novel of great humanity written with dry wit edgy humor and emotional poignancy Irma Voth is the powerful story of a young woman s quest to discover all that she may become in the unexpectedly rich and confounding world that lies beyond the stifling observant community she knows

Rating: 3.50 out of 5

Summer of My Amazing Luck

Summer of My Amazing Luck Description:

Lucy Von Alstyne sends fictitious letters to her friend Alicia pretending to be the father of Alicia s twins and the two welfare mothers and their five children set off on a journey to find him facing along the way the complications of living in poverty and raising fatherless children

Rating: 3.67 out of 5

A Boy of Good Breeding

A Boy of Good Breeding Description:

Life in Winnipeg didn t go as planned for Knute and her daughter But living back in Algren with her parents and working for the longtime mayor Hosea Funk has its own challenges Knute finds herself mixed up with Hosea s attempts to achieve his dream of meeting the Prime Minister even if that means keeping the town s population at an even Bringing to life small town Canada and all its larger than life characters i A Boy of Good Breeding i is a big hearted hilarious novel about finding out where you belong

Rating: 3.46 out of 5

Swing Low: A Life

Swing Low: A Life Description:

Audacious original and profoundly moving Healing is a likely outcome of a bookimbued with the righteous anger compassion and humanity of em Swing Low em em Globe and Mail em Canada Reverberatingwith emotional power authenticity and insight em em em Swing Low em isMiriam Toews daring and deeply affecting memoir ofher father s struggle with manic depression in a small Mennonite community inrural Canada Personal and touching a stirring counterpart to her novel em IrmaVoth em and reminiscent of works by Susan Cheever Gail Caldwell Mary Karr and Alexandra Styron em Swing Low em is an elegiacode to a difficult life by an author drawing from the deepest well of insight craft and emotion br

Rating: 3.61 out of 5

Hang the DJ: An Alternative Book of Music Lists

Hang the DJ: An Alternative Book of Music Lists Description:

Mixing anecdote humour reference and quality anorak behaviour Hang the DJ is a collection of lists about musical loves and hates dreams and nightmares Including contributions from bloggers journalists novelists poets and musicians it is the literary equivalent of a great pub jukebox

Rating: 3.32 out of 5

A Complicated Kindness (Bookclub-In-A-Box)

A Complicated Kindness (Bookclub-In-A-Box) Description:

In her award winning novel A Complicated Kindness Miriam Toews describes a community where individual skills and emotions are held in strict check by the Mennonite leadership of the town Bookclub in a Box guides the reader into this little known world with notes on the history and philosophy of the Mennonite faith interesting facts about the author and an in depth look at the novel s themes and the sole narrator sixteen year old Nomi Nickel br br With Bookclub in a Box the reader will consider the following br br Why this novel with its teenage narrator successfully crosses the line from teen into adult fiction br br How the novel s tone and mood is set by Nomi s cutting sarcasm and why the author has chosen to tell this sad story with humor br br The relevance of the book s title as Nomi measures everything in her life as either complicated or uncomplicated br br How the characters struggle with and against the boundaries of their fixed and demanding cultural environment br br The Bookclub in a Box guide will inspire the reader to ask new questions about faith transgression forgiveness and redemption By exploring the novel s framework the reader can consider how Toews observations apply to other communities and religions br br Every Bookclub in a Box discussion guide includes complete coverage of the themes and symbols writing style and interesting background information on the novel and the author as well as a complementary RAG Read Along Guide a quick reference pamphlet offering interesting facts and questions to consider while reading the novel

Rating: 3.29 out of 5