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The Used World

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,152 ratings  ·  221 reviews
"It was mid-December in Jonah, Indiana, a place where Fate can be decided by the weather, and a storm was gathering overhead." So Haven Kimmel, bestselling author of A Girl Named Zippy, prepares us to enter The Used World -- a world where big hearts are frequently broken and sometimes repaired; where the newfangled and the old-fashioned battle it out in daily encounters bo ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by Free Press (first published August 28th 2007)
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Lulu
The recommendation on the book jacket from Jacquelyn Mitchard, starts, "No one can evoke a universe with a safety pin holding up its hem in the way Haven Kimmel can. In her third novel, she tells a story of an eccentric collective of women with the majesty of a parable and the poignancy of a country song."

(I can't even write a jacket blurb like that, much less hope to ever be an author. :))

I loved this book. I admit that Haven Kimmel is one of my favorite authors, and that every single time I w
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Tamara
Did not love this book. Sad, since I have loved every other Haven Kimmel book until now.

It's not that it wasn't well written. But it was written like a disorienting dream, which is not my favorite style. I like to have at least a smidgen of an idea of what is being referred to in long prose.

Having said that, there were times when the clouds cleared and the poetic nature of the author shone through. And you do have to appreciate a book in which the women are ordinary heroes.

Favorite quotes:

"F
...more
Claire
Feb 02, 2008 Claire rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Claire by: cat
Haven Kimmel is my girl.

This book was astonishing. The mysteries of these women's lives sort of weave in and out of each other so all these different stories pop up and you see, at the end, how they're all connected. Beautiful, beautiful writing. It's not laugh-out-loud funny like "A Girl Named Zippy" or "She Got Up Off the Couch," but there's plenty of wit and quirky character development. The story is so moving and poignant, and the characters are so human that I would recommend this book to
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Laurel-Rain
Almost immediately, I became totally immersed in the “used world” of the primary characters, all of whom are part of an antiques emporium in this small Indiana town. We have the owner, Hazel Hunnicutt, whose own history is presented to us in flashbacks; her voice is revealed through descriptions of her life – her parents, who are deceased, and her sister, whose drug abuse has complicated Hazel’s life, provide the backdrop for her choices – and now, her employees at the emporium assume the role o ...more
Jennifer
Feb 20, 2008 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fem-lit readers
Shelves: grownupbooks
To me, reading this book was a little like taking a risk, simply because I love Kimmel's Zippy memoirs and feared that this might lead to disappointment. Turns out it was, in fact, a huge departure from Zippy, but I loved it anyway.

There are some fantastic observations (I loved the part about women plucking their eyebrows until looking like they were in a permanent state of shock), and a plot as eclectic as The Used World Emporium, where the three female characters work. Past and present weave
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cat
i am so excited for this book...haven kimmel read an amazing passage yesterday about the hurt one of the character's experiences in being shunned by her faith community, and how that allows her to experience anew all the memories, good and bad, of that community. it was incredible - everyone was totally silent the whole time...

[edited to add]
I finished this book a week ago and it completely changed my dreams. I had dreams about these characters, about the many intersecting plotlines, and the man
...more
Beth
I hate it when people who are really smart (and know they're smart) write a fiction book. I am well educated (i.e. perfectly capable of using big words) and I wanted to gouge my eyes out due to the RIDICULOUS amount of large words and complex sentences in this book. It just seemed like the author wanted to use EVERY SINGLE SAT word she ever learned in the course of one sentence.
The plot is long and drawn out, complicated, and overly difficult. I THINK you are supposed to feel sorry for these ch
...more
Regulator
I imagine books are all like old wardrobes, or the newer invention, closets. The front cover is a door behind which we never know what exactly we'll find. In her latest novel (new in paperback!) Haven Kimmel delves into the hidden lives of three women living in Jonah, Indiana. These women all work at the Used World Emporium. As the Christmas season ramps up their lives become entangled in ways none would guess. Haven Kimmel writes beautifully of people living 'normal' lives who are going through ...more
Knitme23
I bought this audiobook because I like Haven Kimmel so much, and I'd just reread The Solace of Leaving Early. Listening to it over the course of two weeks was a little tricky, since Kimmel's structure is convoluted: flashbacks, dream sequences--I'm sure in the book some were even in my much-despised italics!--and antecedent-free discussions about "him" or "her" plus the usual and much-in-vogue varied narrator approach. However, the story is Kimmel's usual blend of funny one-liners, straight-on g ...more
Bucket
The Used World is as much about plot as it is about character development, but the characters suffer only a little for it.

Kimmel reminds me of Marilynne Robinson, especially with her focus on religious struggles her characters face, but Robinson is better. For my taste, Kimmel seems to leave the big ideas she delves into (religion, homosexuality, how we view others) hanging, in order to focus on the big climactic moment in the plot. Don't get me wrong, the climax is well done and exciting, but
...more
Heather
There's "hitting too close to home" and then there's "hitting your house with a missile." With Kimmel, this time, it was like fucking nuclear proliferation.

"What do you love?" Finney asked, still looking ahead.

I love -- Hazel thought - -your parents' farm and the tone of the voice you use with animals. I love that you have stolen your father's cardigan and made it look like the most feminine sweater in the world. I love the way your curls hang against your neck, and how you are the one true thin
...more
Marvin
Another miraculous book by Kimmel. Again set in east central Indiana (probably Muncie), this is the story of 3 misfit women with pasts that haunt them. Like Kimmel's other books, it takes religion very seriously, with a Church of the Brethren pastor of a very small congregation (about 30 attend worship) who quotes Stanley Haurwas & Martin Buber in his sermons. (It's the same pastor who was the one of the two main characters in The Solace of Leaving Early.) But it takes on other big issues, t ...more
Bethany
I am a fan of Haven Kimmel’s, and was excited to read her latest novel The Used World. It follows several women who live in a smallish Midwestern town, chronicling their adventures (or lack thereof) while showing them coming to terms with who they are. The imagery here is - as always with Kimmel - beautiful; every word is necessary, which is all too rare in books these days.

If you haven’t read any of Kimmel’s fiction, I would recommend Something Rising Light and Swift to give you a sense of what
...more
Melee
3.5 stars. I would've rounded up, but just when it was getting really good there was a jump six months into the future and it just got muddled and less enjoyable from then on.

(view spoiler)

Also, on a random note... in one of the n
...more
Lisa Hayes
I'm listening to this and I'm disappointed. I'm constantly trying to figure out which decade the story is in now. Interesting setting and characters but I can't keep the time frame straight.

Imagine that--we have the mandatory coming out moment.....

Oiy, this book needed a much better editor! I don't know why I'm finishing it--I guess the "good parts" are compelling enough. If I'd got caught in a Church with THAT Christmas sermon I'd have a coughing gag and flee to the car!

It's down to TWO stars.
...more
Jennie Menke
Nothing close to "The Solace of Leaving Early" or "Zippy", but good in its own rite. (is that the right rite?). Not too many laughs, but good. I would really love to know Haven Kimmel's background. Zealous religious types show up all over. She also seems to know an AWFUL lot of history, philosophy, religion and more. And then you read a book like zippy... she's also hilarious and quick and sarcastic. Man... I'd love to have her over for dinner and beers.
treehugger
Again I am blown away by the sheer brilliance of Kimmel's writing and insight into the human heart and condition.

Perhaps the most likable of her loose trilogy and perhaps mostly because of nearly completely female cast, this story is unforgettable and paradigm-shifting.

While there were several paragraphs I needed to read multiple times, and were sometimes even then didn't completely understand, I felt like this book, those sentences, those thoughts were a call for me to rise to the intellectual
...more
Janice
I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. I like it very much.

I became captivated by the three main characters, complex women born about 20 years apart, and representing very different aspects of Midwestern America. The book illuminates religious separatism and fanaticism, sexuality, morality and evil, America's changing character from farm to dead- end small towns. Rich and poor have secret lives, and the sordid coexists with the noble. In Haven Kimmel's novel, the bad guys are hu
...more
Jeri
This was my first Haven Kimmel book. I didn't know what to expect, but her lyrical language, her troubled and sympathetic characters and her interesting twisting story had me hooked. I have already lent this book to a friend. The story will stay with you. I enjoyed reading the acknowledgments, which then made clear where her deep spiritual background came from, that so strongly influenced the book.
Teresa
Sometimes life doesn't just hand you lemons, it dumps a bushel full on you...and adds a baby in for good measure. Some how the characters in this novel manage to make lemonade.

This is another of Kimmel's novels that springs from a reality based/fictional small town in Indiana. The author throws in a teaspoon of religion and sprinkles the text liberally with Mommy/Daddy issues. There are connections through the pastor Amos Townsend to her previous novel The Solace of Leaving Early. It's all good
...more
Elise Hamilton
I don't know what I'm going to do when I've read all the books Haven Kimmel has written. She's become one of my favorite authors. Her prose is so beautiful, and I was stuck over and over in The Used World---just as I've been with her other books---how she can convey so much about a character or a scene in only a couple of wonderfully constructed sentences. They are dropped like tiny gifts throughout the books. And as with all Kimmel's books, I loved the main characters. In this case Hazel, Rebek ...more
Quiltgranny
Some people didn't like this book because of the way the protagonists (of which there are three) slip from the present world into a memory of the past or "what could be" - it works for me quite nicely. At times, I was a bit confused, but that was because I wasn't paying attention at the time, and I easily sorted it out.

Some people didn't like the fact that Haven Kimmel uses "big words". I didn't notice them until I read that review, and I thought, hmmmm, maybe "I" use big words. At any rate, wha
...more
Christina
I've re-read this once this year already, but as I was going through a difficult time, I most definitely needed it again. This was comfort reading, and as always, the very last line--"what seems like the end of the world never is. It never is"--is something that brought me hope in a very difficult time.

My original review:

Loved, loved, loved it. If I have another girl, I am going to name her Haven. I was blown away by Kimmel's writing in this book. I know a lot of other regular readers of her boo
...more
Doug Clark
The Used World is Haven Kimmel’s latest novel. The title comes from a flea market called The Used World Emporium, located in Jonah, Indiana, owned by one of the novel’s three main characters, Hazel Hunnicutt. The other two characters, Claudia Modjeski and Rebekah Shook, both work for Hazel. The Used World Emporium is a massive warehouse-like building filled with cubicles of items that people are selling. Hazel, Claudia and Rebekah run the flea market.

Hazel is in her 60s, and much of her story i
...more
Gail
Book about the friendships of women had many interesting interactions between Hazel and her two employees in the antique shop, Claudia and Rebecca. It was a funny and a sad book. I don't think there was one man in the book that had any worthiness at all--they were all impaired and the women were constantly dealing with their ineptides.

The author wrote "A Girl Named Zippy" which I have not yet read.

"Kimmel (Something Rising (Light and Swift); A Girl Named Zippy) returns to rural Indiana in her ex
...more
Steph
If someone were to ask what The Used World is about, the most prominent word that comes to mind is: loneliness. How the people we are closest to are often those we know the least. How we bury secrets, often from those who would delight us with the depth of their understanding. How- old or young, gay or straight, married or single- we females share a bond that transcends labels, stereotypes, beauty, age, etc. We nurture, we love, we desperately seek acceptance (mostly from ourselves) and want mer ...more
Rhonda Rae Baker
What an interesting book...I had to pay attention to what was happening with the back stories.

Mysterious and suspensful...never knew what was going to happen next.

Thought provoking and deeply woven as if threads of the past from each protagonist were intertwined and yet I wasn't sure how they would all fit together. Hard to imagine that it was all important but as I grew to love the characters the meanings started to come to life for me.

We all have pieces of our life that are shattered and broke
...more
Elizabeth
Jul 04, 2011 Elizabeth rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Marcia Lauzon
I listened two the first 2 CDs of the unabridged audio book. The prose and level of detail is marvellous - evocative, inciteful, metaphors and characterizations that make you think. Everything is very finely drawn. I stopped after 2 CDs (out of 11) because while teh language was good and the author clearly has a talented voice and imagination, nothing really happened. In 2/11ths of the book, almost no events, other than some conversations, some flashbacks, one person realizing her condition and ...more
Kathleen
Enjoyed this, and will re-read it, as we've chosen it for my women's book group. Like some other readers, I had trouble at first keeping track of multiple characters, especially since there is movement back and forth in time, from inside the p.o.v. of certain characters, but it all gets easier as you go along. I was riveted, as was the character of Claudia, by a sermon of Amos, early in the book. (He's also a character in Kimmel's book, the Solace of Leaving Early, which I liked. Apparently, the ...more
Julie
Most of the time I was reading this it bordered on two or three stars, but now that I'm finished I just can't give it more than one. I just didn't like it. I tried to like it. I tried to get into it. I just couldn't. I was disappointed. I love the other books by Kimmel that I've read, A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch. These are laugh-out-loud great reads that I'd recommend to everyone.

I don't feel like all books need to be wrapped up in a nice, neat package by the end, but A Us
...more
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Haven Kimmel was born in New Castle, Indiana, and was raised in Mooreland, Indiana, the focus of her bestselling memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana .

Kimmel earned her undergraduate degree in English and creative writing from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and a graduate degree from North Carolina State University, where she studied with novelist Lee Smith.
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More about Haven Kimmel...
A Girl Named Zippy She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana The Solace of Leaving Early Something Rising Iodine

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