Katarina's Reviews > A Complicated Kindness

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
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May 08, 12

A Complicated Kindness is about Nomi, a teenage girl living in a Mennonite community. Abandoned by her mother and sister, Nomi lives with her solitary father in the only world she knows of. This novel made me question many things and by the end of the book all I wanted to do was buy Nomi Nickel a plane ticket to New York City and introduce her to Bob Dylan.
The novel is told through Nomi Nickels wildest thoughts, vivid dreams, and horrid nightmares. This was my favourite and least favourite aspect of the novel, I was able to become so close to Nomi that I was starting to feel her anguish, pain, happiness and joy. I understood Nomi’s character better because of the perspective the novel was in. Nomi asked herself “ Is it wrong to trust in a beautiful lie if it helps you get through life.” As Nomi was thinking about this, she managed to invite me in to her world and I also started to think about. What Nomi thought, I thought. The proximity to her thoughts was a good thing because I was able to understand the events firsthand and the story line moved much quicker that way, all the events would unfold themselves and explain themselves. This was a negative aspect as well because thoughts are hectic and Nomi’s were especially unorganized and the purpose of each thought was hard to grasp. Her thoughts rush from one to another, constantly changing topics. She’ll be talking about school one day and then spontaneously go back to thinking about her mother. The perspective was intriguing to me, even though the thoughts were hard to grasp, it made the novel an endless labyrinth of Nomi’s thoughts. And who doesnt like a puzzle? Miriam Toews, the author, also uses flashbacks very often which was my absolute favourite element of the book. The book starts with Nomi at the age of 16 so the reader does not know of what happened before then, these flashbacks give me an idea and understanding of what Nomi is going through at this point in her life. The very important flashbacks in the book were the days that she would remember her mother and sister. These ones helped me realize why it was so traumatizing for Nomi to be alone. One of the flashbacks forced me to understand what Nomi’s mother was like. “there was something seething away inside of her that day, that year, something fierce and unpredictable, like a saw in a birthday cake. But that was Trudie” Trudie was a wild card, and Nomi’s flashbacks of her mother made me realize that. If the author had not used the flashbacks, we would not know who Trudie really was, memories are stronger than opinions.
Novels usually have proper grammar. I brought the bag over to the stove is an example of proper grammar. Nomi Nickel says “ I brang the bag over to the stove.”That in fact, is not proper grammar. “Brang” is not even a word as far as the Oxford Dictionary is concerned. ‘A Complicated Kindness’ was not grammatically correct for a reason. Many people forget that a 16 year old teenage girl most likely does not think in proper etiquette. I know that I don’t think that way. The novel is from the perspective of Nomi’s thoughts which are supposed to be un edited as all thoughts are. I particularly enjoyed this element of the novel because it added a certain rawness and reality to Nomi’s strong character.
A complicated kindness was an intriguing novel that captured my attention in the first sentence. This novel was like no other book I have read and I highly recommend it to anyone from any age, I believe that you are never too young to be educated on the meaning of life.


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