A Complicated Kindness: A Novel
, 2004 - Fiction
- 246 pages
Welcome to the world of Nomi Nickel, a tough, 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. In this work, Miriam Toews explores the intricate binds of family, and the forces that tear them apart.
"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, Natasha, 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. Boasting such attractions as a Main Street that goes nowhere and a replica pioneer village that hearkens back to the days when life was simple, and citizens who didn't live by the book were routinely shunned, East Village is ministered by the fiercely pious Hans, or as Nomi calls her uncle, 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. But one startling act of defiance brings the novel to its shattering conclusion.