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Kind of Kin

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  580 ratings  ·  153 reviews
A richly comic yet heartfelt novel about people who want to do right and still do wrong, and people who do right in spite of themselves, as they try to help, protect, and provide for those they love most when a draconian new state law threatens an ordinary American family and throws a close-knit community into turmoil.

"Kind of Kin is a kind of miracle. The character Sweet
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2013)
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Books Set In Oklahoma
5th out of 95 books — 29 voters
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Immigrant Experience Literature
160th out of 524 books — 713 voters

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Community Reviews

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I was a stranger and ye took me in.” -Sermon on the Mount

Alright, I’ll go to hell then.” -Huckleberry Finn

Her mama named her Georgia Ann, but folks here in Oklahoma call her “Sweet.” Good woman she is-- overworked and unappreciated. Everybody else’s problem lands in Sweet’s lap, and she beats herself up for not solving those problems. Sweet’s got a good heart, but her burdens do not afford her the luxury of time to think critically about her prejudices, religion, or politics. Civil disobedienc
Constance Squires

I am a reader that prefers depth to breadth. I want to be pierced. I want the universal and the personal to eat each other’s tails, to turn into an infinity sign. For this reason, I am sometimes not satisfied with fiction that takes a broad scope. Often what you get is wide but not deep, more sociology than fiction. Rilla Askew knows how to avoid this pitfall. Kind of Kin is deep AND wide—a big, multivocal book, full of characters who all seem like people I talk to everyday, real as real. Set in
Askew writes a very compelling family drama that features a very hot subject these days--immigration, illegal and otherwise. Religion, civil rights, extended families, and the economic struggles of blue collar families all come into play in this multi-layered novel of life in Oklahoma.

This is a very unusual book with the primary themes of religion, politics and societal values. The author keeps your interest while juggling multiple stories and shows that what is legal and what is right are not always the same. The major issue is the arrest of a Christian grandfather, Robert John Brown, who was sheltering a group of illegal immigrants in his barn. This is the beginning, but it is only the first domino to fall in a whole series of chains. The message that I took away from this
Hennessey Library
Rilla Askew is an Oklahoma author who not only understands her people but also paints them in true colors on the pallete of her pages. Kind of Kin is an easy read, much easier than Fire in Beulah or her seminal The Mercy Seat , but this breezy narrative, nonetheless, is powerful and her voice is emphatic.

Sweet, the heroine, is Askew's signiture dutiful mother/wife/daughter trying to hold her world together against growing odds and is presented with the problem of an aging father taken to jai
Georgia “Sweet” Brown’s life is spiraling out of control. Her daddy, a preacher, is in jail for harboring illegal Mexicans because her no-good husband, Tee, turned him in to the pompous, celebrity wanna be sheriff. Her niece’s husband, also an illegal alien, is deported and the niece need’s Sweet’s help. Her son is beating up her nephew, Dustin, who had been living with her daddy, but comes to stay with her and Tee. Dustin runs away and Sweet suddenly feels the weight of the world upon her. Can ...more
I have really mixed feelings about this one. It's got a lot going for it. It addresses an important, timely issue: How do we treat the "strangers"--illegal immigrants--among us? Once it gets going--and it doesn't take long--it's a real page-turner. And it takes religion--even evangelical religion--seriously as a motivation for doing right and pursuing justice. That's clear from the opening sentences: "'Your grandpa is a felon,' Aunt Sweet said. 'A felon and a Christian. He says he's a felon BECA ...more
*Check out for other reviews and sundry thoughts!*

Oklahoma's best-kept secret is at it again, as Rilla Askew steps out of her usual historical fiction with Kind of Kin, a novel that touches on both the timeless theme of family bonds and the timely theme of illegal immigration regulation.

Bob Brown's arrest shocks the citizens of tiny Cedar, Okla. In Bob's estimation, he's "a felon because he's a Christian." In an exercise in radical discipleship, Bob agreed to hide
Ron Charles
Rilla Askew’s new novel, “Kind of Kin,” sneaks over the border of literary fiction to make a case for more compassion in the immigration debate. It’s a timely argument, of course. Even while Mitt Romney was blaming his loss on President Obama’s “gifts,” Republicans agreed that their party must develop a better attitude toward Hispanic voters — current and future. As if to show the way, “Kind of Kin” spotlights a single American family dragged toward social enlightenment.

Askew, who has been a fin
PacaLipstick Gramma
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.

When I read the synopsis I thought it would be more than it was. The subject matter is controversial, but I don't think the book really did it justice. I think it could have been so much more. The book is over 400 pages, and was so light in content that I just wanted to skim over it, but I wanted to be fair to the author. I wanted some meat that I could sink my teeth into, and I just didn't get it.

Some of the characters were not well developed, and di
What happens to a family when one member falls in love with someone not exactly like themselves? The family dynamic tends to shift. Long held prejudices are challenged within the family and members tend to act and feel differently about those beliefs over time. Some are able to come around to the side of the family member who has brought in this “outsider” while others will cling even tighter to the way things used to be and resent the new norm even more.

The main character in Kind of Kin, Sweet
If I was an editor, Rilla Askew’s Kind of Kin is a book I would hope to cross my desk. Contemporary, funny, dramatic and, at the same time, as socially relevant as they come, Askew manages to juggle the multiple perspectives surrounding the immigration debate with both humor and compassion. While brutally honest about the political (and personal) imperitives behind legislative decision-making, Kind of Kin provides just enough humanity to both sides that it doesn’t come across as excessively prea ...more
Kind of Kin is the story of an unconventional family at the heart of the debate over illegal immigration in Oklahoma. Set in 2008, when strict anti-immigrant laws were just starting to appear in legislatures around the country, it traces the consequences when a local farmer, Bob Brown, and his friend Pastor Jesus Garcia are arrested for harboring a group of Mexican workers in Brown's barn. The story then follows the effects of the raid for Brown's family, especially his daughter Sweet and grands ...more

This is not a relaxing, peaceful sort of reading experience. But it brings to life the problems many people are facing as a result of our current immigration policies. It gave me some added empathy for others.
Amanda Rhoads
This is a wonderfully told story about both sides of the illegal immigration debate. It has the story from many points of view from the immigrants themselves to the families and communities that are torn apart when they become involved. Mr. Brown, a well respected community member, is asked to house some illegal workers for a day and ends up arrested for his kindness. His grandson, whom he's been raising, is then caught up in the fury of other people's hatred and his own confusion. He sets out t ...more
Jessica Barkl
I was given this book as a gift from the author, and I was in between books, so...I was excited to have something to read, and curious because I've never really known a living author (in person) before, was fun to read and have a face to put with the book I was reading.

I truly enjoyed this book, it is superbly paced...I was angry when an episode was not continued to the next chapter, and it made me push through the next chapters to get to the episode that had completed with an (almost) c
Title: Kind of Kin
Author: Rilla Askew
Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
Format: Library Book

This is another book I grabbed off the "Reader's Choice" table. Please note that this is FICTION.

With the passing of a new law in Oklahoma making it a felony to harbor undocumented immigrants, Life becomes extremely complicated for the residents in a small town. People are forced to take sides. People are forced to learn lessons and learn that there are consequences for their actions. Families are torn
This is the kind of book I love--a contemporary theme that really matters; a setting that is not completely alien but far enough removed from me that I feel as if I have entered a new world; vivid and loveable characters (some hatable ones too); a gripping plot, a lack of the annoying detached irony you find in so much contemporary fiction; finally, true sympathy for people who find themselves screwed over for no fault of their own. If you like those kinds of novels too, I recommend you read thi ...more
Alice Meloy
Ten-year old Dustin is trying to make sense out of the fact that his grandfather, who has raised him since his mother died, has been thrown in jail for breaking a new Oklahoma law against harboring illegal aliens. He has moved in with his Aunt Sweet, who not only has to work on getting her father out of jail, but has to come to terms with the facts that her son is a bully, her husband is on the opposite side of the political fence, and her niece (and Dustin's sister) is married to a Mexican who ...more
This is the best novel I've read in three years. It's brilliant, compassionate, funny, and quite serious about putting its very real characters through an all too plausible hell. And Rilla Askew is kind enough to see these people through that hell to the other side, in style. I love it when a major work of fiction is also good for a few laughs and a lot of rapid page-turning. Don't wait. Read it. Then spread the word.
World Literature Today
"Rilla Askew’s fourth novel is a brilliant evocation of Heraclitus’s axiom that character is fate—an ironic evocation she both confirms and turns on its head." - Jim Drummond, Norman, Oklahoma

This book was reviewed in the January 2013 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our website:
Great book. No resolution, so if you like fairy tale endings, this may not be the book for you. She captured Oklahoma with frightening accuracy and the illegal immigration issue was shown with such compassion and humanity.

This gave me a lot of things to think on and would love to read more of her books.
Danica Ramgoolam
This is a great book that deeply expresses the power of family and community in the context of illegal immigration. Though the book has a message about Mexican immigrants it is written in a way that isn't preachy and lets us make up our own mind. Great book for book clubs!
Rilla Askew clearly knows her milieu. I could've sworn I was reading about my relatives. She colors this book with such a strong sense of place that we all know so well. Her book is peppered with local references..from the fact that we still call the Cowboy Historical Heritage Museum the Cowboy Hall of Fame because we like it to the addled way the Oklahoma Legislature never really ever comes to order to the way people temper their drinking to suit the denomination of church they attend. The char ...more
There are every day heroes in this book trying to cope with what life throws at them. Not least is Aunt Sweet, who struggles to hold her family together, losing her father and her nephew, estranged from her daughter, realising her son is a little monster and her husband a traitor to the family and finally getting arrested.Their Christian beliefs form the backbone of their choices and I loved the way so many good people came to stand behind the poor reverend in the end. The controversy over illeg ...more
Ms. Askew has done an excellent job of writing about the controversial subject of illegal immigrants. She has created characters and a storyline that believable and entertaining.

From seeing interviews with her, I know the subject was a personal one for her family - an illegal immigrant husband and father was picked up and deported and she saw from inside her own family the consequences and pain of such enforced separations within family units. This book was a result of this experience in her lif
I chose to listen to this book because it was available from Overdrive. I didn't know what it was about, the cover was non-indicative of what I'd be hearing but all the other audio books on the page were checked out and this one wasn't. Sometimes I make decisions based on such strange things.

I may have actually chosen to listen to it had I read the summary or had I cataloged the book but I went into this story not knowing what it was about. And while it's not my typical fare, it's not too far ou
To those who think reading fiction is for escape from the “real” world, this novel addresses a very serious real world problem, one with no easy, one-size-fits-all answer.

A fairly normal, strongly Christian family in Oklahoma gets caught up in a felony, harboring illegal immigrants, violating a new law. And the family is being torn apart.

Children are involved, as are family members who don't have good sense, good people trying to stand up for what they think is right and those trying to protect
At some point in the book, Sweet observes that we're all kind of kin: the illegal Mexicans her father is accused of harboring; the church ladies protecting her; her neice and her recently deported and returned husband; the people in her community filled with hate against her, her family and the strangers in their midst.
The book is about a family: Sweet and her husband and son, her father, her neice and nephew. It takes place over a couple of months, during which everybody in the novel is require
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Rilla Askew's first novel, The Mercy Seat, had its seeds in old stories about her family’s migration from the American South into Indian Territory. The book was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, was nominated for the Dublin IMPAC Prize, and received the Oklahoma Book Award and the Western Heritage Award in 1998. Fire in Beulah, her novel about the Tulsa Race Riot, received the American Book A ...more
More about Rilla Askew...
Fire in Beulah Harpsong The Mercy Seat Strange Business Red Dirt Women: At Home on the Oklahoma Plains

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