A Complicated Kindness
From Publishers Weekly: "A 16-year-old rebels against the conventions of her strict Mennonite community (which she observes are "the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you're a teenager"). Her gentle, uncommunicative father, Ray, isn't much of a sounding board as Nomi grapples with teenage life. Once a "curious, hopeful child" Nomi now relies on biting humor as her life spins out of control—she stops attending school, shaves her head and wanders around in a haze—while Ray sells off most of their furniture, escapes on all-night drives and increasingly withdraws into himself. Bold, tender and intelligent, this is a clear-eyed exploration of belief and belonging, and the irresistible urge to escape both."
Nomi Nickel lives with her father, Ray, in East Village, a small Mennonite town in Manitoba. “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 spent piecing together why her mother and sister have disappeared and contemplating her inevitable career at Happy Family Farms, a chicken slaughterhouse on the outskirts of East Village. She dreams of escaping to the big city, but since her mother and sister left home, it’s hard to imagine leaving her father behind. Not the East Village in New York City where Nomi would prefer to live, but an oppressive town founded by Mennonites on the cold, flat plains of Manitoba, Canada. As she begins to piece together the story behind her mother’s disappearance, she finds herself on a direct collision course with the town’s minister. With fierce originality and brilliance, Miriam Toews takes us straight to the centre of Nomi’s world and the complicated kindness at the heart of family life.