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The Used World

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,386 Ratings  ·  250 Reviews
"It was mid-December in Jonah, Indiana, a place where Fate can be decided by the weather, and a storm was gathering overhead." So Haven Kimmel, bestselling author of A Girl Named Zippy, prepares us to enter The Used World -- a world where big hearts are frequently broken and sometimes repaired; where the newfangled and the old-fashioned battle it out in daily encounters bo ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by Free Press (first published August 28th 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost immediately, I became totally immersed in the “used world” of the primary characters, all of whom are part of an antiques emporium in this small Indiana town. We have the owner, Hazel Hunnicutt, whose own history is presented to us in flashbacks; her voice is revealed through descriptions of her life – her parents, who are deceased, and her sister, whose drug abuse has complicated Hazel’s life, provide the backdrop for her choices – and now, her employees at the emporium assume the role o ...more
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The recommendation on the book jacket from Jacquelyn Mitchard, starts, "No one can evoke a universe with a safety pin holding up its hem in the way Haven Kimmel can. In her third novel, she tells a story of an eccentric collective of women with the majesty of a parable and the poignancy of a country song."

(I can't even write a jacket blurb like that, much less hope to ever be an author. :))

I loved this book. I admit that Haven Kimmel is one of my favorite authors, and that every single time I w
Oct 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Did not love this book. Sad, since I have loved every other Haven Kimmel book until now.

It's not that it wasn't well written. But it was written like a disorienting dream, which is not my favorite style. I like to have at least a smidgen of an idea of what is being referred to in long prose.

Having said that, there were times when the clouds cleared and the poetic nature of the author shone through. And you do have to appreciate a book in which the women are ordinary heroes.

Favorite quotes:

Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Claire by: cat
Haven Kimmel is my girl.

This book was astonishing. The mysteries of these women's lives sort of weave in and out of each other so all these different stories pop up and you see, at the end, how they're all connected. Beautiful, beautiful writing. It's not laugh-out-loud funny like "A Girl Named Zippy" or "She Got Up Off the Couch," but there's plenty of wit and quirky character development. The story is so moving and poignant, and the characters are so human that I would recommend this book to
Lisa Weber
I had a hard time with this book. I almost decided to quit several times out of frustration, but I found there were some parts that really touched me. For the record, this is my first Kimmel book, and might be the last, except that so many here value her work so highly. I listened to this on audio, and mostly thought the narration too cutesy and cheery for the text, although she lent Rebekah an appropriate sense of innocence. The time frames were confusing and sometimes hard to follow, the multi ...more
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fem-lit readers
Shelves: grownupbooks
To me, reading this book was a little like taking a risk, simply because I love Kimmel's Zippy memoirs and feared that this might lead to disappointment. Turns out it was, in fact, a huge departure from Zippy, but I loved it anyway.

There are some fantastic observations (I loved the part about women plucking their eyebrows until looking like they were in a permanent state of shock), and a plot as eclectic as The Used World Emporium, where the three female characters work. Past and present weave
i am so excited for this book...haven kimmel read an amazing passage yesterday about the hurt one of the character's experiences in being shunned by her faith community, and how that allows her to experience anew all the memories, good and bad, of that community. it was incredible - everyone was totally silent the whole time...

[edited to add]
I finished this book a week ago and it completely changed my dreams. I had dreams about these characters, about the many intersecting plotlines, and the man
Feb 03, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hate it when people who are really smart (and know they're smart) write a fiction book. I am well educated (i.e. perfectly capable of using big words) and I wanted to gouge my eyes out due to the RIDICULOUS amount of large words and complex sentences in this book. It just seemed like the author wanted to use EVERY SINGLE SAT word she ever learned in the course of one sentence.
The plot is long and drawn out, complicated, and overly difficult. I THINK you are supposed to feel sorry for these ch
The Used World is as much about plot as it is about character development, but the characters suffer only a little for it.

Kimmel reminds me of Marilynne Robinson, especially with her focus on religious struggles her characters face, but Robinson is better. For my taste, Kimmel seems to leave the big ideas she delves into (religion, homosexuality, how we view others) hanging, in order to focus on the big climactic moment in the plot. Don't get me wrong, the climax is well done and exciting, but
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this audiobook because I like Haven Kimmel so much, and I'd just reread The Solace of Leaving Early. Listening to it over the course of two weeks was a little tricky, since Kimmel's structure is convoluted: flashbacks, dream sequences--I'm sure in the book some were even in my much-despised italics!--and antecedent-free discussions about "him" or "her" plus the usual and much-in-vogue varied narrator approach. However, the story is Kimmel's usual blend of funny one-liners, straight-on g ...more
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dave_felton
I imagine books are all like old wardrobes, or the newer invention, closets. The front cover is a door behind which we never know what exactly we'll find. In her latest novel (new in paperback!) Haven Kimmel delves into the hidden lives of three women living in Jonah, Indiana. These women all work at the Used World Emporium. As the Christmas season ramps up their lives become entangled in ways none would guess. Haven Kimmel writes beautifully of people living 'normal' lives who are going through ...more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Most of the time I was reading this it bordered on two or three stars, but now that I'm finished I just can't give it more than one. I just didn't like it. I tried to like it. I tried to get into it. I just couldn't. I was disappointed. I love the other books by Kimmel that I've read, A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch. These are laugh-out-loud great reads that I'd recommend to everyone.

I don't feel like all books need to be wrapped up in a nice, neat package by the end, but A Us
Sep 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's "hitting too close to home" and then there's "hitting your house with a missile." With Kimmel, this time, it was like fucking nuclear proliferation.

"What do you love?" Finney asked, still looking ahead.

I love -- Hazel thought - -your parents' farm and the tone of the voice you use with animals. I love that you have stolen your father's cardigan and made it look like the most feminine sweater in the world. I love the way your curls hang against your neck, and how you are the one true thin
Jan 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I am a fan of Haven Kimmel’s, and was excited to read her latest novel The Used World. It follows several women who live in a smallish Midwestern town, chronicling their adventures (or lack thereof) while showing them coming to terms with who they are. The imagery here is - as always with Kimmel - beautiful; every word is necessary, which is all too rare in books these days.

If you haven’t read any of Kimmel’s fiction, I would recommend Something Rising Light and Swift to give you a sense of what
Aug 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: midwest, religion
Another miraculous book by Kimmel. Again set in east central Indiana (probably Muncie), this is the story of 3 misfit women with pasts that haunt them. Like Kimmel's other books, it takes religion very seriously, with a Church of the Brethren pastor of a very small congregation (about 30 attend worship) who quotes Stanley Haurwas & Martin Buber in his sermons. (It's the same pastor who was the one of the two main characters in The Solace of Leaving Early.) But it takes on other big issues, t ...more
3.5 stars. I would've rounded up, but just when it was getting really good there was a jump six months into the future and it just got muddled and less enjoyable from then on.

(view spoiler)

Also, on a random note... in one of the n
Lisa of Hopewell
I'm listening to this and I'm disappointed. I'm constantly trying to figure out which decade the story is in now. Interesting setting and characters but I can't keep the time frame straight.

Imagine that--we have the mandatory coming out moment.....

Oiy, this book needed a much better editor! I don't know why I'm finishing it--I guess the "good parts" are compelling enough. If I'd got caught in a Church with THAT Christmas sermon I'd have a coughing gag and flee to the car!

It's down to TWO stars.
Again I am blown away by the sheer brilliance of Kimmel's writing and insight into the human heart and condition.

Perhaps the most likable of her loose trilogy and perhaps mostly because of nearly completely female cast, this story is unforgettable and paradigm-shifting.

While there were several paragraphs I needed to read multiple times, and were sometimes even then didn't completely understand, I felt like this book, those sentences, those thoughts were a call for me to rise to the intellectual
May 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-sellers
This was my first Haven Kimmel book. I didn't know what to expect, but her lyrical language, her troubled and sympathetic characters and her interesting twisting story had me hooked. I have already lent this book to a friend. The story will stay with you. I enjoyed reading the acknowledgments, which then made clear where her deep spiritual background came from, that so strongly influenced the book.
Jennie Menke
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing close to "The Solace of Leaving Early" or "Zippy", but good in its own rite. (is that the right rite?). Not too many laughs, but good. I would really love to know Haven Kimmel's background. Zealous religious types show up all over. She also seems to know an AWFUL lot of history, philosophy, religion and more. And then you read a book like zippy... she's also hilarious and quick and sarcastic. Man... I'd love to have her over for dinner and beers.
Could have used the print version or audible for this. Used CD and difficult to re-listen.
Jul 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I just love Haven Kimmel!
Amanda Webster
Haven Kimmel is one of my absolute favorite writers, however this book didn't overall leave me as provoked as her other works do. There were a few great parts, but it just wasn't love for me.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rhonda Rae Baker
What an interesting book...I had to pay attention to what was happening with the back stories.

Mysterious and suspensful...never knew what was going to happen next.

Thought provoking and deeply woven as if threads of the past from each protagonist were intertwined and yet I wasn't sure how they would all fit together. Hard to imagine that it was all important but as I grew to love the characters the meanings started to come to life for me.

We all have pieces of our life that are shattered and broke
Doug Clark
The Used World is Haven Kimmel’s latest novel. The title comes from a flea market called The Used World Emporium, located in Jonah, Indiana, owned by one of the novel’s three main characters, Hazel Hunnicutt. The other two characters, Claudia Modjeski and Rebekah Shook, both work for Hazel. The Used World Emporium is a massive warehouse-like building filled with cubicles of items that people are selling. Hazel, Claudia and Rebekah run the flea market.

Hazel is in her 60s, and much of her story i
Christine Schmidt
Feb 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I recognize the sort of female mind this is supposed to appeal to, but it's just not mine. Found it very annoying.
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Three women work together in an antique store / thrift store called The Used World Emporium. Over one winter season, the lives of the three friends become intertwined. This is a story of adult friendships, of the sacrifices we make for love and for family, of the tragedy present in small insular religious communities.

You won't want to put this book down - there is enough action (between current events and flashbacks) to keep the story rolling at a good pace; the reader can escape into the story.
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. I like it very much.

I became captivated by the three main characters, complex women born about 20 years apart, and representing very different aspects of Midwestern America. The book illuminates religious separatism and fanaticism, sexuality, morality and evil, America's changing character from farm to dead- end small towns. Rich and poor have secret lives, and the sordid coexists with the noble. In Haven Kimmel's novel, the bad guys are hu
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
Book about the friendships of women had many interesting interactions between Hazel and her two employees in the antique shop, Claudia and Rebecca. It was a funny and a sad book. I don't think there was one man in the book that had any worthiness at all--they were all impaired and the women were constantly dealing with their ineptides.

The author wrote "A Girl Named Zippy" which I have not yet read.

"Kimmel (Something Rising (Light and Swift); A Girl Named Zippy) returns to rural Indiana in her ex
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Haven Kimmel was born in New Castle, Indiana, and was raised in Mooreland, Indiana, the focus of her bestselling memoir, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana .

Kimmel earned her undergraduate degree in English and creative writing from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and a graduate degree from North Carolina State University, where she studied with novelist Lee Smith.
More about Haven Kimmel...

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