A Complicated Kindness

Miriam Toews

A Complicated Kindness

Meet 16-year-old Nomi Nickel. Her dream is to party with rock stars in New York City but she's stuck in her Mennonite hometown, where narrow-mindedness rules and everything fun is forbidden. As she struggles to cope with the sudden departures of her sister and her mother, the rebellious teen begins to spiral out of control. Both funny and heartrending, Nomi's account of her experiences is one of the most memorable coming-of-age stories in CanLit.

A Complicated Kindness won the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction in 2004, and was a finalist in that year's Scotiabank Giller Prize. It was the winning book in Canada Reads 2006, when it was defended by John K. Samson.


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From the book:

"Now my dad, you know what he says in the middle of those long evenings sitting in our house on the highway? He says: Say, Nomi, how about spinning a platter. Yeah, he uses those exact butt-clenching words. Which means he wants to listen to Anne Murray singing 'Snowbird,' again. Or my old Terry Jacks forty-five of 'Seasons in the Sun.' I used to play that song over and over in the dark when I was nine, the year I really became aware of my existence. What a riot. We have a ball. Recently, Ray's been using the word stomach as a verb a lot. And also the word rally. We rally and we stomach. Ray denied it when I pointed it out to him. He says we're having a good time and getting by. Why shouldn't he amend? He tells me that life is filled with promise but I think he means the promise of an ending because so far I haven't been able to put my finger on any other. If we could get out of this town things might be better but we can't because we're waiting for Trudie and Tash to come back. It's been three years so far. My period started the day after Trudie left which means I've bled thirty-six times since they've been gone."


From A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews ©2004. Published by Vintage Canada.

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Miriam Toews on Manitoba and Mennonites:

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