The Kindness of Strangers
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The Kindness of Strangers

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3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  7,665 ratings  ·  1,144 reviews
"On a quiet street in the suburban Midwest, a popular, seemingly stable family keeps a terrible, dark secret behind closed doors - a secret that will have life-changing consequences for all who know them." "Sarah Laden, a young widow and mother of two, struggles to keep her family together. Since the death of her husband, her high-school-age son, Nate, has developed a rebe...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 31st 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jaime
You know you're reading a great book when you start thinking about its characters and their story in your free time. This book completely consumed my thoughts. Although the subject matter may turn some readers off--the story deals with incest and child pornography--the author handles it with an immense amount of compassion and poise. I felt so attached to the characters in this novel, and Kittle (a middle school English teacher!) didn't hold back; there were constant shocks and twists in the plo...more
Lisa
Nov 14, 2008 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: my Dad
I'm still feeling conflicted over this book--it was a really hard subject matter (pedophiles, child sex abuse) and was full of terrible language in large quantities, but it was such an interesting look at a struggling family who worked through some really tough challenges and was even able to embrace another child to help him work through his trials. I loved the way the author captured the emotions of the characters--the story was told through three rotating points of view--and I was so intrigue...more
Cheryl
Sep 25, 2007 Cheryl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS by Katrina Kittle / William Morrow Press / 390pps / $24.95

When an elementary boy tries to kill himself, people look for reasons. What they usually find is horrendous.
Jordan is the quiet, skinny, pale boy who is best friends with the youngest of Sarah's two sons. Sarah is recently widowed and runs a catering business out of her home. She has catered "parties" for Jordan's parents on numerous occasions. She is close friends with Jordan's mother. When police investigat...more
Julia
Although the back of the book attempts to summarize without hinting at content, my friend Cecily actually recommended this to me specifically because it was about childhood sexual abuse. If that is something you prefer not to spend free time thinking about, then don't read this. After working at a sexual assault crisis hotline for 3+ years, however, I'm sort of inclined to think that because silence surrounding child victims is almost as significant a form of oppression as the abuse itself, that...more
Tiffany
I absolutely loved this book. It is without a doubt one of the most heartbreaking books I've ever read, but also the most heartwarming, in an alternating pattern that varies throughout the book. Dealing with the aftermath of horrible child abuse in a way that is honest and real, there is no sugarcoating of facts to be found here. Obviously, things aren't blatantly described, but the author has no problem discussing the issue. But, at the same time, this is not a story about child abuse, but rath...more
Eva Leger
Aug 26, 2008 Eva Leger rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Eva by: book club
Shelves: b-fiction
This is an amazing book! I was totally enthralled the entire time. The characters- every single one- are so drawn out that you actually feel part of the story- that you know them. She deals with a very tough subject- child sexual abuse- but she touches every situation with great care. The way she has Danny, Nate, their mother, and Jordan going you'd swear she actually wrote down every little nuance from her own childhood and teenage years- she just does everything so well- totally believeable! I...more
Betsy
Beautifully written, thought-provoking -- just all-around great. The author tackles a horrifying subject without making the reader feel prurient or voyeuristic, which I think is a major accomplishment.
Katt
This book was really difficult for me to read. Being abused as a child and dealing with the questions of "why didn't you tell" have been subjects that I have had to deal with my whole life. I am still and will always be dealing. The love for a parent and the protection of "family" are the strongest bonds a child can have as well as the most desired bonds a person can long for.
I don't know if any of Katrina Kittle's story is true or if it is derived from a true story but it takes some serious cou...more
Kate The Great
I really want to say that I loved this book; I honestly want to have loved it, but I don't think either of those things would be true. I want so badly to have said a much because I respect the author for taking on such a daunting and horrid topic like inscest and child pornography. It was a good solid story, and I enjoyed reading it, but at the end I found myself thinking... oh, okay, it's over.

Perhaps it is because the book I'd finished before this one (or rather when I put this one down and p...more
Kimberley
I honestly don't know how to rate this book because I loved it so much yet disturbed all at the same time. I found myself not being able to put the book down but probably because I wanted to know what was going to happen to each of them. Of course it broke my heart as we know this really does exist every day. I think it was a GREAT approach for the author to show- yes, good things can come out of horrible situations.

I guess we need more Nate's in the world to convince us we have enough to give,...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
A must read if you can deal with the subject matter . An emotive,compelling tale of the horrors of abuse and how it affects not only the child but also the people it touches.
Despite the grim situation, it is incredibly well written with compassion yet without couching the horror in coy terms. It is honest which is sometimes difficult to read, it can make your heart hurt. This issue is so often exploited for shock value or tabloid fodder. There is no sensationalism in this story - but raw truth....more
Joan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Claudia
Apr 02, 2009 Claudia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Claudia by: Lauren
You know that feeling, when something really sad happens, when you can't seem to take a full breath, and your chest hurts? All through this book I fought to breathe. Poor Jordan HAS to rely on the kindness of strangers, because both parents are monsters. Sarah and her boys, Nate and Danny, are dealing with the death of their husband and father, supported by the neighbors, Courtney and Mark. But the neighbors' secrets blow the town, and Sarah's family sky high. Sexual depravity and molestation, w...more
Recynd
Not bad, not bad...but not good, either. One does have to admire the author's guts in tackling such a touchy subject: incest/child pornography. Avoiding graphic details and gratuitous description, the author still manages to tell her story without it feeling like a cop-out. Unfortunately, "not being a cop-out" does not equal "a great read".

The best way I can describe the writing is "immature": Kittle has a ways to go before she's ripe. The characters are cookie-cutter and predictable, the dialog...more
Anne
The book is told in the third-person, but the chapters rotate from the perspective of a widow of two (Sarah), her oldest high-school aged son (Nate), and the 11-year old son of a friend (Jordan). As Sarah struggles to keep her own two sons in order, a devastating secret is revealed about Jordan's family. While the "secret" is not discussed in the book-flap summary, it comes to light fairly quickly - so I don't feel like I'm spoiling anything by saying that the horrible truth is that Jordan has b...more
Jane
Jul 22, 2010 Jane rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents and teachers
Recommended to Jane by: the goodreads site
I read this book because Katrina moderated a recent Goodreads author discussion. It was amazing. About a hard subject...and yet so thoughtfully presented through the eyes of four of the characters. I think if I had known that the subject was pedophila and child abuse, I might not have read it, but I'm so glad I did. I was pulled in from the first chapter, and couldn't stop reading. I had lots to do, and read it in three days...promising myself, "Just finish this job and you can read another chap...more
Tara
This was one of those books that I found was hard to read due to the content, but was also easy to read because I cared about the characters and the plight each of them had. Sarah is a widowed mother to two boys. When her husband died 2 years before her friend Courtney helped her through the tough time. Now her friend is having a hard time, and although she wants to be be there for her friend she must fact some compelling evidence that her friend may not be who she thought she was.
I am still ha...more
Sarah
I read this book in two days. While I will not write any spoilers, I will say that I got very caught up in the story of a difficult situation that has a child enter foster care and the impact of the child and situation on the family dynamic of the foster family. Katrina Kittle creates wonderful, fleshed out characters that could be your neighbors. Each chapter is told through the eyes of one of the main characters. This style works very here to progress the story and to explore the emotions, tho...more
Becky
A heart wretching story. Not for the faint at heart to read. Subject matter is still treated as a taboo subject in many circles. Or a "this can't be happening in my neighborhood". But, the sad truth is IT DOES happen. And more frequently than one would imagine.

The author treats Jordan, the little boy who is rescued by a recently widowed woman & her family, with respect & compassion. This family was still dealing with a difficult situation in their lives but opened their hearts & soul...more
Martine Taylor
What worked for me in this story were the characters and the emphasis on healing. The protagonist and her two boys are lovable. I wanted to "save" the child who had been victimized too. I was attached to the characters early in the story and cheering for them. Written in a contemporary style, this is a fast read that would probably appeal to fans of authors like Jodi Picoult, as long as they can handle the harsh topic (child sexual abuse). While all of the abuse is in the past and much of the ab...more
Stacy
Well, damn, she wasn't kidding.
I will start by saying that the dust jacket certainly does not lend to what the book will be about in full. I have been trying to formulate the words for this spot for a month. I actually read this book before The Bell Jar (#32).

Into your life you let Sarah Laden, recently widowed and raising two sons, on her own, while run her in-home catering business.
Into your life you let sons, Danny and Nate Laden. Danny, a quiet, reserved 5th grader who never [seems:] to d...more
Leila
I really did not like this book, which I read for my Book Club about a year or so ago. The subject of the novel is the sexual abuse of a child--which, by the way, is not even hinted at on the book jacket (you only know that there is some vague "family problem"). The descriptions of this abuse were, I thought, overly detailed--almost lurid. I had the sense that the author wanted to write a story about a family with a real juicy skeleton in the closet, so she wracked her brain to find the most dis...more
Tammy
Aug 06, 2014 Tammy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lori, cathi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sheryl
Have you ever been so emotionally attached to a book? Or to a family that the story revolves around? That's me with The Kindness of Strangers. I find myself reading this book as though it effects me in some way. As if it is happening to someone close to me or someone I know. I can't help but to get choked up and tear up just about every other page. I had no idea what I got myself into with this one, however I am not disappointed at all. The synopsis on the back cover did not prepare me for what...more
Peachy
Katrina Kittle has attempted to address a subject that very few authors would even consider writing about, let alone be able to accomplish in a novel with such grace and empathy as The Kindness of Strangers.

You don't have to have been a victim of incest to understand and experience the terror, shame and confusion that young Jordan is subject to in this eerily accurate account of familial sexual abuse. As the author gives us access to the thoughts and feelings of three main characters and their d...more
Mindy
I finished The Kindness of Strangers a few hours ago and I’m still reeling, still thinking about the characters and what happens to them next—two good signs that you’ve just read a very well done and powerful novel. The story takes place in Oakhaven, which must be a pseudonym for Oakwood, a small suburb just outside Dayton that I lived in 20-odd years ago, so this book was even more stirring for me. I could smell the unique aroma of the market Sarah frequents as I read, see the streets Jordan wa...more
Jocelynne Broderick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angie
This was one of those books from which you have to recover for a few days before moving on to another. Despite the horribly disturbing and distressing topic (sexual abuse of children, child pornography) this story was told so powerfully, so poignantly that I had a really hard time putting it down (and stayed up until 2:30 this morning to finish it *yawn*). Kittle managed to carefully tiptoe the line between describing just enough and describing too much. It was enough to make me squirm uncomfort...more
Stephy
I Loved this book! Broke my heart but was also a feel good book. The book deals with a very tough subject- child sexual abuse. So if your uncomfortable with things like that I would avoid this book. It was very well written.

A young widow raising two boys, Sarah Laden is struggling to keep her family together. But when a shocking revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another troubled young boy into her already tumultuous life.

Jordan, a quiet, r...more
Colleen Oakes
How hard is it to write a book about child molestation? More than that, how hard would it be to write a book about child molestation and have it be readable? Funny at times? Endearing? That is the GREAT accomplishment of Kittle, who has taken the world's most unimaginable subject - child molestation and the child porn industry - and turned it into a compelling, heartbreaking and witty book about one family's journey through hell and back. There are times where you will have to turn your head awa...more
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9679
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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