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Traveling Light

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,170 Ratings  ·  148 Reviews
A dancer turned schoolteacher, Summer is still recovering from the injury that ended her promising career in the arts. Her lover, Nicholas, fears she's depending on him to fulfill her remaining dreams and hopes. And, most ominously of all, her cherished brother, Todd, is slowly dying. In the tranquil suburbs of Ohio, as these difficult days crawl forward, Summer will come ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by Warner Books (NY) (first published January 1st 2000)
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Darbi Hebrank
I rarely read a book that I know will make me cry. But because I've read all of Kittle's other books, I thought I'd give her first one a try. The good news is that I didn't cry until the end. The bad news is that I sobbed. :)
But the tears were worth it. I fell in love with the characters (oddly though, the one I felt the least tied to was the narrator...) and the subject matter was intense, but written about in such a way that I was compelled to not put the book down. AIDS is always a tragic su
Leah Fischer-Toerpe
Jul 27, 2008 Leah Fischer-Toerpe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Masochists
This book shoulder have been good -- it had a moving premise, a worthy message, and nice, unadorned prose -- but instead it was condescending, preachy, and flat. I disliked it so much, I actually cancelled the class I'd read it for and took a different one instead.

Here's why:

The protaganist, Summer, was competely unlikeable. For a book about tolerance, she was incredibly judgemental --- of her boss and co-workers, of her students, of her battered sister, of her dying concentration-camp-survivor
Kristy Mancuso
Aug 31, 2012 Kristy Mancuso rated it it was amazing
This by far is one of the best books I have ever read. The relationships between Todd & Jake, Todd & Summer, & Jake & Summer are so gutwrenchingly beautiful you don't want to put the book down. As sad as this book should have been I felt so peaceful the whole time I was reading because you can only hope you and everyone you love can live their lives as "light" as Todd. I'm so glad I came across this book for this story will keep with me forever.

As for the other comments that peo
Kathy Marler
Aug 05, 2010 Kathy Marler rated it did not like it
Perhaps it is unfair to rate a book that I chose not to finish, but this is only the second book in my entire life that I started and chose not to finish, therefor, a little explanation may be warranted.

The book is about a family, the sister is the main character, has a live in boyfriend, she lives with her brother & his gay spouse. The brother is dying from Cancer, and is HIV positive. The brother Todd, is the hero of the sister and I enjoyed the story of the family until the author found i
Jan 05, 2011 Heather rated it it was amazing
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Traveling Light, but I wasn’t expecting how much I’d enjoy it, especially knowing the topic. Summer has returned home to live with her ailing brother Todd and his partner, Jacob. Back in her hometown teaching English, she’s confronted by her past success as a ballerina, ruined by an accident. Todd still has much to teach her about living and loving, and he’s not afraid to use his death to teach her that risking love is worth it. I was worried that I’d be a sobbi ...more
Aug 15, 2010 Charlotte rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
Traveling Light is a Five-Hanky book. It is so easy to lose yourself in the story and find yourself a part of Todd & Summer's family. But it is also hard to read the attitudes that made living their lives difficult. The ignorance and hatred displayed towards Todd and Jacob is hard to read. I really hope that if this story were told today the hatred, the ignorance, would not be part of this story. I know that it is a realistic portrayal, but it still makes me sad to read about.

Jun 15, 2010 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
At first I was concerned the plot would be too depressing, and while the story definitely had its heart breaking moments, on a whole it was a beautiful and even uplifting novel. Also the main plot points didn't sound interesting at first; homosexuality, Aids, death. But in the end this book help open my eyes and it forced me to learn about a lifestyle that I really knew nothing about.

My main knock on the novel, is that there are so main characters you are introduced to. I found myself wanting t
Judy Decaigny
Nov 23, 2011 Judy Decaigny rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read. I read one of her other books "The Blessing of the Animals" in Book Club and loved it so thought I would try another. This one is just as good with likeable characters who are so very human, capable of doing thoughtful acts as well as sometimes being complete dolts. Real, well-rounded characters. I was sorry to come to the end of the story as I would really like to know what happens to these people who I came to know and like. I will definitely look for another of her books.
Nov 13, 2014 Laraine rated it really liked it
I would give this book a strong 4 1/2 star rating. This is the first book of Katrina Kittle's that I have read, although her name has popped up on my book lists for years. I am so glad I finally read one of her books. The book involves you emotionally right from the beginning. It tells the story of a young woman, Summer, and of her journey of compassion in helping her beloved brother Todd as he dies of AIDS back in the beginning of the epidemic. The characters are compelling...I liked Summer, he ...more
Eileen Carter
Katrina Kittle, is an author who can touch you at your core. She reaches into the depth of your heart and soul making you feel things that you didn't know were possible. In this heart wrenching story of a Summer, who takes time from her life to help care for her older brother, Todd who is dying. There is so much going on in this book that will keep you turning pages as you grab another tissue to wipe the tears from your eyes.

Each of the characters in this book is so well developed that you could
Jan 20, 2016 Ellen rated it liked it
Summer was an up and coming ballerina in New York City but left it all behind to move back to Ohio to be near her beloved older brother Todd who is in his final months of life. Although only 29 years old Todd knows that he will die soon from Aids and wants only to have his husband Jacob and sister Summer by his side for the time he has left. During a visit to their parents farm Summer is thrown from a horse and suffers a severely broken ankle which puts a final end to her dancing career. Summer ...more
May 01, 2015 Helen rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc-fiction
This is one of those "live like you were dying" books to encourage you to discover and pursue what really matters in life while avoiding the accumulation of nonessential baggage (hence traveling light). It's also a book about homosexuality, presenting both a somewhat idealized, self-sacrificing long-term relationship between two of the main characters, as well as the harassment and ridicule they and those who love them face. It is both an uplifting and sad story as A young man is rapidly dying o ...more
Jun 25, 2011 Arlene rated it liked it
Summer Zwolenick, the narrator of Kittle's debut novel, is a 26-year-old Ohio schoolteacher who has just enough charismatic mettle and emotional depth to keep the book from falling into the niche of sentimentalized stories in which an angelic young man with AIDS provides meaning and hope to his grieving and equally angelic family. Once a rising ballet star, Summer suffered an injury three years ago and now teaches high school near her suburban Dayton hometown, where she has relocated to be close ...more
Marika Gillis
Oct 19, 2010 Marika Gillis rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Erin
Summer is floundering in her new job as a schoolteacher. Summer misses her life as a dancer. Summer can't fully commit to her near-perfect boyfriend.

Summer's brother, Todd, is dying.

Sometimes it's hard to tell what a book is going to be like until you open the pages and start reading. The last book I read, The Tall Pine Polka, was a light, fun book but it took some time and commitment to finish. Alternatively, Katrina Kittle's first novel, Traveling Light, is an intense book dealing with some ve
Apr 10, 2009 Louise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
For a "first" novel this was a well written and deeply moving story. I was totally enraptured!! I was immersed in this story to the point that I was crying when Todd's life came to an end. The relationship between Summer and her brother Todd is one that many siblings would, I'm sure, wish for. I will definitely be reading more of this new author.

From dust jacket:

"I woke and wondered if my brother was dead, gone before I could keep my promise...

Everything seems to be going wrong in Summer's life,
Aug 30, 2012 Judi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2000
Three years earlier, Summer had a promising career in New York City as a dancer, then in a moment it is over when she falls from a horse and shatters her ankle. Her career as a dancer was due to the sacrifices her older brother, Todd, made for her when they were younger. When one year after the accident, she hadn't stopped pitying herself, it is Todd that jump starts her life again by making her promise that she will show him what else she can do. While she struggles to figure out how to now mak ...more
Debra Parmley
Feb 29, 2012 Debra Parmley rated it it was amazing
I first read Traveling Light in 2002 after meeting Katrina at the Antioch Writers Workshop. There are books I have read and forgotten, but this was not one of them. Traveling Light is a five Kleenex book and this was true for me on that first read ten years ago and on the second, even though I knew what was coming next.

It was hard to read about the harsh realities of AIDS, of Todd's descent into death. Hard to read about the judgements and the anger characters inflict upon each other. These thin
Jan 28, 2013 Jewel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites

This book broke my heart and made me cry over and over again.

I originally decided to pick up "Traveling Light" because I am an ex-dancer as well and I've spent a brief amount of time in the teaching arena (ESL in Japan). I took so many great life lessons away from this book. "Travel light so you can sing in the robbers face" aka, live so that you have no regrets and that you cannot be metaphorically robbed. "For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of al
Jan 03, 2013 Ikebukuro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quand j'ai choisi ce livre, je me souvenais essentiellement des critiques positives que j'avais lues au moment où je l'avais acheté mais plus du tout du résumé et du sujet dont il traitait. Je me suis donc lancée sans préjugés ou idées préconçues dans ma lecture et j'ai été complètement bouleversée par l'histoire… bon j'avoue j'ai aussi beaucoup, beaucoup pleuré ! Je me suis attachée aux personnages au fur et à mesure de ma lecture, à tous, pas seulement aux personnages principaux même si j'avai ...more
Jeannine Harbison
Jan 29, 2016 Jeannine Harbison rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot, just not as much as I hoped. I loved the Blessings of the Animals, but this one didn't have the same punch for me. It is the rather depressing, but ultimately hopeful story of a woman facing challenges including her own identity, and her brother as he slowly dies of AIDS. I definitely recommend it, as Ms Kittle is quite a talented author. The subjects of AIDS is one I haven't read much about and I will definitely read more of her books.
Nov 07, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Having read (and loved) Katrina Kittle's "Kindness of Strangers," I was excited for another one of her books-- and "Traveling Light" was no disappointment. While I wouldn't necessarily classify her writing as literary phenomena, her writing style is so readable and she presents and develops the characters in a very organic way; she has a gift of making them seem almost familiar to you, and therefore relatable, as none are infallible and all are very dynamic. The narrator's voice is so authentic, ...more
Diane Schuller
Feb 11, 2014 Diane Schuller rated it really liked it
Enjoyable Read

Since so many people summarize the plot, I'm not going to. I'll give my impressions instead.

As my subject header indicates, this was a very enjoyable novel. It's a lovely story about family, true deep love, and about living & dying with AIDS. Not depressing, not moralistic, just a good genuine story. I stayed up late several nights because I couldn't put it down. I definitely recommend it.
Jan 07, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing
Very good book with characters I felt I was friends with. It was both beautiful and heartwrenching. I haven't cried that much reading a book in a long time - even more than the Nicholas Sparks books! I appreciate that it really showed the human side of the gay issue that so many like to overlook, including myself. It was a good reminder to love the person above all else.
Jul 11, 2014 Micki rated it liked it
I finished this book because it was all I had available to read. It was probably a realistic depiction of the gay experience and horrors of AIDS. I just couldn't relate to any of the characters and didn't especially like any of them. Furthermore, Summer, the storyteller and former dancer turned English teacher, violated teacher/student boundaries big time. Helping her gay student could have been better handled by the author as characters were pretty flimsy anyway.
Lynn Dickerson
Feb 28, 2015 Lynn Dickerson rated it liked it
I didn't like this one nearly as much as the author's Kindness of Strangers. I found Summer a frustrating, self destructive character. But there were good parts and it was an entertaining read. With all the great books out there waiting to be read, don't waste your time on this one. It's not bad but it's not good either
Shannon White
Nov 19, 2013 Shannon White rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Traveling Light tells us the story of a three siblings who are struggling in their relationships for various reasons. The brother, Todd, is a married homosexual (spouse Jacob) who is dying of AIDS.
Although this book felt a little like reading something out of the 90s, I really enjoyed it in the end. Todd experiences many instances of discrimination and hatred throughout the book. Additionally, some characters exhibit a large degree of ignorance about gay people in general. At times this seemed
Nov 15, 2014 Chelsea rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful and heartbreaking story about a man living and dying from AIDS, and how it affects his spouse Jacob and his family, whether they are close for not. Not only is it a good book, it is an important one, and I am so glad I found it.
Awilk -never sleeps-
I read this book many years ago and have just finished re-reading it, and cried again. A lot of people have commented on how Todd got aids, and I feel that was important to the story, as she was trying to stop some of the stereotypes of how people caught aids, and point out that it is not a disease exclusive to gay men.
Jacob was my favorite character, as he seemed honest about how he was scared of letting Todd down when he needed him most, and he wasn't frightened of still arguing with someone w
Oct 10, 2015 Erin rated it really liked it
A solid 4 if you're looking for an emotional tear-jerker, otherwise a 3.5. The characterization has some flaws, but it's a fast, intense read that contemplates love and loss in many forms.
Sara Bear
Sep 22, 2012 Sara Bear rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. I became drawn into their characters world and lives. I cried too many times too count- but for my personal reasons... This book made me reflect back into my own life, the choices I have made and the relationships I chosen or not chosen... I found myself needing to talk to someone about the similarities between myself and the relationship of Summer and her brother Todd. I found myself texting my brothers late at night, reminding them how much I love them... Life i ...more
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Hello! Welcome to my GoodReads profile, fellow book lover. People have teased me that my reviews are all so high that I don't seem very critical (like a teacher who gives out all A's). Let me explain: First of all, life is too short to finish a book I don't love, and I'd never, ever review a book I hadn't finished. Secondly, I feel much more comfortable recommending works I admire than I do critic ...more
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“Travel light and you can sing in the robber's face” 5 likes
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