Friday, May 19, 2006

The Kindness of Strangers - Katrina Kittle [May/06]

I was very stupid with this book. I have this thing about having the book near me when I write reviews, but for some odd reason I read this book and then gave it right back to the person I borrowed it from without writing a review first. The easiest thing to do is to write out what it says on the flap, it will refresh my memory:

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 rebellious streak, constantly falling in and out of trouble. Her kindhearted younger son, Danny, though well behaved, struggles to pass his remedial classes. All the while, Sarah must make ends meet by running a catering business out of her home. But when a shocking and unbelievable revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another young boy into her already tumultuous life.

Jordan, a quiet and reclusive elementary-school boy and classmate of Danny's, has survived a terrible tragedy, leaving him without a family. When Sarah becomes Jordan's foster mother, a relationship develops that will force her to question the things of which she thought she was so sure. Yet Sarah is not the only one changed by this young boy, and as the delicate balance that holds her family together begins to falter, the Ladens will all face truths about themselves and one another - and discover the power of love to forgive and heal.

Having grown up in a small town, this novel made a lot of sense to me. The little things that happened in this novel became big things because that was the way that the town thrived, and the big things became something that the town was not sure how to grasp. The back of the book is very thought-provoking, but it does not fully prepare you for what you are about to find in this novel. Jordan has lived very harshly, and while he never knew another life but the one he is leading, it is a secret that will shatter the sleepy town. Part of Jordan knows that what has been happening to him is not right, but since that is the only thing he has ever had to deal with, he is not sure what to do about it. Everytime he thinks he should try and break away from the repeated cycle, he gets scared of what will happen. He is afraid of losing the only family that he ever really knew and not sure how to embrace this new world that is telling him that what happened to him was wrong.

This is a very dark novel, shrouded in family struggle and heart ache. There is not a character in this novel that you will not eventually come to love, but with that will come the characters you can not help but hate. I know I have alluded to possible scenerios for what will happen in this book, but at the same time I do not think it is something that can be revealed entirely and not destroy the book for those who choose to read it. It is a larger book and I read it in a day, I just had to know what happened to Jordan and the family that he was forced into. It was a poignant novel that you just can not help loving, but it is not for those that prefer cheerful reads. While there is happiness in the novel, for many of the pages it is the bad things that happen that get the most word use.


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