Traveling Light
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Traveling Light

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  901 ratings  ·  126 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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Community Reviews

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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...more
Jul 27, 2008 Leah rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Kristy Mancuso
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...more
Kathy Marler
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...more
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
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...more
Judy Decaigny
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.
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 4 of 5 stars
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...more
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,...more
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
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...more

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...more
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
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
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.
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.
Shannon White
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...more
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...more
Sara Bear
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
I read this as a book club assignment and thought it was quite good. I did look back to see when it was written, 2000, as it seemed to be trying to challenge every misconception of the 80's and 90's of AIDS. Especially the way in which Todd gets the disease is particularly ironic. With so many of these challenges in the book it may have taken it a little too far to be unbelievable.
I enjoyed most of the charactors, was a little frustrated with Summer at times. I liked Todd the most, especially hi...more
Mark Johnson
A wonderful book about love and relationships, Traveling Light does a great job of showing what it takes to make a relationship work, and the importance of love. The author does something I haven't seen in a story of two couples. She uses the relationship between a gay man, dying of complications due to AIDS to teach the man's sister how to how fully and truly, how to forgive, and the importance of moving on in her life; letting go of the hurts people and events have inflicted on her. Gay or str...more
Heb in 2004 dit indrukwekkende boek gelezen het is is mij nog steeds bij gebleven. Hoe een vrouw afscheid neemt van haar broer die besmet is geraakt door het HIV-virus. Erg indrukwekkend!
This book was published quite a while ago. Why is it listed as a "proof copy." I loved this book. Reading other reviews: "Too much information about homosexual behavior," or "disappointing because..." I was surprised. It's obvious to me that Katrina Kittle is very interested in human sexuality and her novels explore loving sexuality as well as deviant sexuality. This book was so much easier for me to read than "The Kindness of Strangers." This was a book about deviance. Travelling Light was a bo...more
This is one of those books that I somewhat enjoyed reading, it was written well, but the storyline was sad throughout... I think I cried for the last 1/3 of the book, which was only slightly embarrassing since I was on a cross country flight. What I did appreciate about it, was that it opened my eyes to the suffering, bravery and strength of HIV patients, their spouses and their extended families. Kittle likes to intersperse some great quotes into her book, and the quote that this book borrows i...more
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.

A breathtaking first novel! For any who have read "The Kindness of Strangers (which is what Katrina Kittle is known for) do pick this one up. Katrina Kittle weaves a heartfelt story that is filled with love, sorrow, pain, and redemption. It's a story told mostly through two relationships--one between a sister and her brother, and the other, between the brother and his partner. This story is an analysis of how far we go, despite our fear, for those we love. Tears streamed down my face through the...more
I did not really care for the main character, Summer. There was nothing about her that endeared her to me and her name did not fit her at all! I did think that Todd and Jacob were fun characters; they were the reason I kept reading.

Other random complaints:
* Grandma Anna was a huge part of the first part of the book, then she just dies? And it's glossed over and not really ever mentioned again until the end when Summer is all upset over it. That was weird.
* How Todd got AIDS. C'mon. Really? Why d...more
Kim Faires
Great writing, I just didn't like the storyline. : (
Debbie Hill
Very simple, lovely book. I loved the underlying message that reminded me of the movie Love Actually. Sort of the - no matter how you define it, THIS is what love looks like. Socially acceptable, how you would've pictured it, not what you always thought... THIS is what love looks like.
Also a heart-wrenching reality play-by-play of what AIDS can do to a person.
I didn't make sobbing noises like I did with My Sister's Keeper, but I sure cried as I wrapped up this book at 3:00 in the morning.
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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” 4 likes
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