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The Kindness of Strangers

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  12,933 ratings  ·  1,607 reviews
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, reclusive elementary school classmate of Sarah's son Danny, has survived a terrible ordeal. By agreei
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 31st 2006)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  12,933 ratings  ·  1,607 reviews

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Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jordan, aged beyond his mere eleven years, cannot understand why this is happening to him. He is a child, unwilling and unable to comprehend his situation. For him, there is no escape.

Sarah Laden knows grief. She feels it everyday her husband doesn't come home. She feels it deep within her bones. If her husband was still living, perhaps he would never have come into their lives. There may never have been that gaping hole. That cavernous void.

This book was torturous in moments, yet ultimately hea
Dec 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book about 8 years ago and it's one of those books that has stayed with me ever since. It will probably always be one of my favorite books. Even though it is also one of the most difficult books I have ever read. It's the book that comes to mind whenever someone asks for a recommendation. I had originally meant to write a review but somehow it slipped my mind.

The novel was on my mind again as I just recently recommended it to someone.

This book introduced me to author Katrina Kittle
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
joyce g
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's hard to review a book highly which depicts such horrific subject matter. That being said, this book will be one that will remain with me. Child abuse to the deepest degree. A difficult subject but yes I am glad I read it. Very well written. ...more
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
5 stars! Wow - this was an intense, highly-emotional and uncomfortable book. I don't think it's possible for me to give this book the review it deserves. I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked it up. Kudos to the author, Katrina Kittle, for writing an extremely powerful book about such a devastating and disturbing topic - child sexual abuse. Pedophiles are expert manipulators who thrive on finding vulnerable children and they often lead completely "normal" lives. What an eye-opener! ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a perfect example of why I love my GR buddies- without them I never would have had this on my radar; I never would have known this existed, because let's be honest: that cover is easy to overlook. Don't let the cute cover fool you- this is emotionally draining. But it's worth it.

Before I go any further, just know that you NEED to read this. It is heartbreaking. It is raw. It is real, with no pieces of truth extracted. Even if you only read to escape life's woes, please consider giv
Nov 02, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Feb 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
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
Feb 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abuse, family-drama
When you hear about parental child abuse in the newspaper or on the tv it's normally about the court proceedings or the accused and very rarely any information about what happens to the abused child.
This heartbreaking novel takes us on the same journey as the child who finds when his parents are arrested he cannot look after himself so is hospitalised and under the care of psychologists and social workers. He is alone,frightened and bleeding, All his friends and neighbors know what has happened
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible story of survival...of surviving the unimaginable. It is a distressing read, and yet, the message of love and resiliency makes it a worthwhile. Kittle's writing is moving. I loved how she rotated the point of view of each character in alternating chapters, so that I knew each one intimately.
I have gone back and forth between rating it 4 or 5 stars, and have decided that it deserves 5 because of the beautiful story telling, even though the subject matter of Jordan's life is
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 investiga
Tracy Fenton
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is not an easy book to review. It's also a difficult book to read due to the subject matter. Without giving away any spoilers the story revolves around incest, child abuse and paedophiles (which was surprise to me as I started it on an aeroplane journey so couldn't read the blurb before hand!). It's painful and uncomfortable to read especially the 11 year old boy, Jordan, chapters. However it is gripping and the author covers this horrific subject with sensitivity and compassion. Told from ...more
Sarah Laden has her hands full raising her boys after the death of her husband. Two years later, she struggles to keep all her spinning plates in the air. Her oldest son Nate seems determined to make her life as difficult as possible. Being a teenager he chafes at the rules she sets down. And her younger son Danny, sweet and socially awkward, struggles daily with school and friendships.
When she comes to the aid of a friend's young son, she finds herself embroiled in the exposure of a child sex
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 10, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ambivalent, fiction
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
Feb 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
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,
Eva Marie
Jul 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Eva Marie 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
May 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
So this is one of those books that deals with a gross topic...incest and pedophilia...and tries to come at it in a serious way. This is not a horror book, it is a "chicklit" kind of story about a family who finds out the worst possible news about their closest friends.

But it is not a very good book. The writing is clean a simple, but nothing special; the characters are not very believable (I have a 16 year old son and Nate did not ring true AT ALL) and there is no real suspense or intrigue. It
Crystal Craig

Sometimes I find it hard to rate a book that deals with the hard subject matter. What is most terrible is the fact that such topics are a part of real-life; pedophiles, child sex abuse are what some families deal with each and every day and often these crude acts go on for years. You never know what goes on behind the closed door of your friends and neighbours. I’ve never been one to shy away from books that deal with such topics. It’s not that I enjoy reading about such things. It’s a book,
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Despite the excellent reviews, I was hesitant to read about the sexual abuse of a child. I have to say, though, that the author handled this so well that it was hard for me to put this one down. It really dealt with the aftermath of the abuse and the emotions it elicits from not only the victim of the abuse, but of those in the community, especially the close friends of the child and his abusers. I highly recommend this one.
May 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sheryl Sorrentino
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a tough book to review. As purely a novel, I would give it 3.5 stars. The writing is fairly simple; moments of raw emotion few, but powerful. The Laden family, Jordan, and the various professionals are all likeable enough as characters, and I think the author did a decent job illuminating a really difficult subject within the context of a family saga. I found Jordan’s mom, Courtney Kendrick, to be a bit strained as a psychological profile of a child molester, but then, I am no expert. Jo ...more
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
Apr 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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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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