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Traveling Light

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  1,259 Ratings  ·  161 Reviews
Travel light and you can sing in the robber's face was the best advice Summer Zwolenick ever received from her father, though she didn't recognize it at the time. Three years after the accident that ended her career as a ballerina, she is back in the familiar suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, teaching at a local high school. But it wasn't nostalgia that called Summer home. It was h ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published July 15th 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
Jun 28, 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
Melanie Maloney
Jul 10, 2016 Melanie Maloney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scanned
Such a beautiful heart wrenching story of love and life. Kittle shows that love comes in many forms. It's all beautiful. Read this with an open mind and an open heart. And keep the tissue box handy!!
Kristy Mancuso
Aug 28, 2012 Kristy Mancuso rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Judy Decaigny
Jun 13, 2011 Judy Decaigny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kathy Marler
Aug 05, 2010 Kathy Marler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Barbara Nutting
Sep 04, 2016 Barbara Nutting rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was her first book - the second I have read by her. She can take the most sensitive subjects and bring them to light in a moving and compassionate way. The dialogue actually makes you feel you are in the room with the characters. I hope she is as delighted as I am to see the progress made in the 16 years since the book was written. Looking forward to reading more of her novels.
Christi Warner
Jun 06, 2016 Christi Warner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most excellent books I've read! Her ability to tap into the depths of the human spirit, sibling relations, and being gay.
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
Mar 22, 2009 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 2012 Ellen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 30, 2012 Judi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 25, 2011 Arlene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2013 Jewel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 11, 2014 Laraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 24, 2012 Ikebukuro rated it it was amazing
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
Marika Gillis
Mar 22, 2009 Marika Gillis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 14, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 30, 2016 Hermioneginny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Summer ha ventisei anni, un passato da ballerina, un presente da insegnante, un fidanzato che le fa proposte che non è in grado di accettare o rifiutare, e soprattutto ha un adorato fratello, Tom, che sta morendo di AIDS. Summer si è trasferita da lui e da suo marito per aiutarli, la sua vita sta andando a pezzi. Solo osservando chi le sta intorno capirà quale sia la scelta migliore per sé.

Bello bello bello. Non perfetto, ma verosimile, uno di quei libri che ti tengono incollata alle pagine per
Mar 22, 2015 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Shannon White
Sep 06, 2012 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
Mark Johnson
Jun 24, 2013 Mark Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sue Frances
Oct 06, 2016 Sue Frances rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book but had to take my time with it as I found it so sad! The story is of Summer who was a ballerina but suffered an injury that stopped her dancing. She becomes a teacher which she feels she's bad at, but during the evening and weekend she helps to care for her brother Todd who has Aids. Alongside her brother's partner she shares Todd's last months with him. Katrina Kittle writes with such sensitivity that I felt I knew these people and truly didn't want any harm ...more
Aug 29, 2010 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2011 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sara Bear
Sep 22, 2012 Sara Bear rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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