A Complicated Kindness
"Half of our family, the better-looking half, is missing," Nomi Nickel tells us at the beginning of A Complicated Kindness. Left alone with her sad, peculiar father, her days are spen...more
Nomi Nickel is a sixteen-year-old girl living in the fictional Mennonite community of East Village, somewhere in Canada. Her family has recently been torn apart - her older sister Tash ran away to the c ...more
Looking around at our neighbours and friends, ourselves and our parents, it is easy to laugh off this idea. We may see our churches doing good works in the community; they may be providing relief for Haiti or some other disaster struck land; they may be providing shelter for the homeless or the physically abused; their beliefs and morality may be providing guidan ...more
Anyway, file book this under "Semi-autobiographical memoirs dispatched from unusual situations," which is a wide and ...more
part of it is that miriam toews is a genius at creating truly compelling characters. nomi is a gas. nomi is the kid you always wanted to be -- funny, smart, sassy, resourceful, a world-champion bullshit detector, unbelievably creative, sweet, lovin ...more
Required school reading
And I have finally completed the chicken book.
With books that I must read for school, I’m often at a loss when I’m asked how I feel about them personally.
I don’t know how I feel about the book, I don’t know how I feel about the characters, and I don’t know how I feel about the ending.
But I do think we all have a bit of Nomi in us.
Nomi’s a snarky, sarcastic, confused sixteen year-old girl who’s just trying to find h ...more
"some people can leave and some can't and those who can will always be infinitely cooler than those who can't and I'm one of the ones who can't because you're one of the ones who did and there's this old guy in a wool suit sitting in an empty house who has no one but me now thank you very, very, very much."
Small towns pretty much suck. Small towns in rural Manitoba in wintertime blow chunks. But imagine a small town in rural Manitoba in wintertime that is not just small, it is populated by har ...more
Shortlisted for Giller 2006
Winner Canada Reads 2006
Half-way through reading A Complicated Kindness it struck me that the only way Miriam Toews could write in such an authentic voice would be if she herself had grown up in a Mennonite community. Sure enough, Miriam WAS raised Mennonite in small town Steinbach, Manitoba. There was a Mennonite Village Museum there when she grew up. “That is taken right out of my life,” she says in an Interview with Dave Weich (Nov. 8, 2 ...more
Until that time, I think I would have described my thoughts about the book as ambivalent. I found the whole thing to be rather tediou ...more
I started reading A Complicated Kindness on my last day in Barcelona. I ran away to Barcelona because of a girl. Also I’d been grumpy and mopey for the previous month or so, due to the whole uncertain future thing, so really the whole disappointment with the girl just kind of tipped me over the edge. I figured I could fritter my money away while moping in Edinburgh, or I could fritter it away travelling.
I’d never really bothered to ...more
Nomi Nickel joins Daniel Handler's Flannery Culp (The Basic Eight) as one of my favorite characters. Like Flan, Nomi is a bright, sympathetic teen-ager struggling to create a reasonably happy life for herself.
She's also, like Flan, one of the least reliable narrators in the history of literature.
The Nickels are Mennonit ...more
A Complicated Kindness is narrated by the sixteen year old Nomi Nickel, a Canadian girl living in a small town of East Village in Manitoba, near the American border, during the 1970's and 1980's. Young Nomi daydreams about living in New York City, the "real" East ...more
There is no doubt that Nomi's 'voice' is a spectacular accomplishment. Distill it, and each drop is pure essence du Toews.
I think tha ...more
Written in the voice of Nomi, it follows her trains of thought from one idea to the next, from past to present, from misery to humour, from memory to hope… I found the resulting account difficult to follow and get caught in. But at the same time it brings us strai ...more
Note: The rest of this r ...more
Nomi is one of the most personable narrators I've known and is definitely one of my favourites. I can't believe this story is over. I will miss her so much and will think of her often -- that is no exaggeration. I feel lik ...more
Nomi is the young protagonist of this novel, a 16-year-old girl living in a Mennonite community in Canada. Her life ain't easy, and she's not afrai ...more
Toews groundbreaking novel about growing up in a Mennonite community in small town Manitoba is an emotionally gripping story told in quiet and subtle prose. Although I was impressed with much of the story told through the eyes of our teenage protagonist, Nomi Nichols, I found the writing at times too sleepy, a trait very common in the canon of Canadian Literature. Otherwise a compelling story and looking forward to Toews new book set to be released next month.
This book is equal parts hilarity and heartbreak. It provides insight into a modern, Mennonite community in the Canadian Prairies and while the narrator is unquestionably critical of her town and community, I never felt that Toews gave an imbalanced perspective. The ultimate uncertainty we are left with as to the choices Nomi will make confirms that life is, as the title suggests, com ...more
this was my third time reading a complicated kindness and i think it gets better each time. the way toews captures the voice of 16-year-old nomi is incredible. sure she's wise and precocious but she's also still a kid and toews gets her voice so right. i don't want to say too much here as one of my groups is about to do this read together.
it's a great novel to read over canada day long weekend.
For a significant portion of my life I was a member of a church with that felt similar to this one. A church where kindness is complicated. It is a kindness where people put the smiles on their faces and portray their lives as perfe ...more
Toews studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of King's College in Halifax, and has also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio journalist. Her non-fiction book "Swing Low: A Life" was a memoir of her father, a vi ...more