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A work of fierce originality and brilliance, Miriam Toews’ novel explores the ties that bind families together and the forces that tear them apart. It is the world according to Nomi Nickel, a heartbreakingly bewildered and wry young woman trapped in a small Mennonite town that seeks to set her on the path to righteousness and smother her at the same time.
‘Half of our family, the better-looking half, is missing,’ Nomi tells us at the beginning of A Complicated Kindness. Left alone with her father Ray, her days are spent piecing together the reasons her mother Trudie and her sister Tash have gone missing, and trying to figure out what she can do to avoid a career at Happy Family Farms, a chicken abattoir on the outskirts of East Village – not the neighbourhood in Manhattan where Nomi most wants to live but the small town in southern Manitoba. East Village is ministered by Hans, Nomi’s pious uncle, otherwise known as The Mouth.
As Nomi gets to the bottom of the truth behind her mother’s and sister’s disappearances, she finds herself on a direct collision course with her uncle and the only community she has ever known. In this funny, compassionate and moving novel, Miriam Toews has created a character who will stay in the hearts of readers long after they’ve put the book down.
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