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Out of the Shadows Paperback – June 12, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Kimberly Carlson's Out of the Shadows is a moving, lush, exotic novel that evokes the best psychological investigations of John Fowles, the moody atmosphere of Poe. The devastating atrocities of our dark century hang over every page of this brooding book as Jamie seeks to heal from a personal loss as bruising to her body as it is to her spirit. Readers will feel an intimate connection to the residents of the mysterious Fallow Springs mansion, and at times, as trapped there by pain as the heroine. This is a surprising tale of the families we must make for ourselves in a brutal world that often rips mother from child. --Tony D Souza, award-winning author of Whiteman, The Konkans, and Mule

Kimberly Carlson s novel is a dream, a smile , a hug , a kiss, a home , a story... She shows there is a life for every Darfuri woman. Thanks for writing it. --Halima Bashir, best-selling author of Tears of the Desert

Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection. Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn t advance too far; yet details from Jamie s trip to the refugee camp in Chad the types of beer served at the aid workers bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie s wealthy employer? Does Jamie s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots? With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination. --Kirkus Review

About the Author

After graduating Humboldt State University with a MA in English Composition and Literature, Kimberly Carlson taught composition and creative writing at Shasta College. She has been a delegate leader for Amnesty International and is a member of Genocide No More, Save Darfur. Kimberly lives in Redding, California with her husband and two children.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 389 pages
  • Publisher: First Snow Publishing House (May 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984991808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984991808
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,441,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I love Faulkner and Hemmingway and Wharton. These were my first teachers, my first glimpse at writing. I wanted to emulate them. What I would give to write a story of the same caliber as "A Rose for Emily" or Ethan Frome. I wanted their greatness--minus the alcoholism, the suicide, the unfulfilled loves and the childless homes.

I have always been a dreamer. As a girl I dreamed of passion, and pure fulfillment--I believed these states could be obtained. As I became an adult, it was art that seemed to bring these feelings more than anything.

Books have changed my life, as well as art, film, and music. I believe art is the most powerful tangible force God has given us, besides love manifested. My life is deeper from viewing Caravaggio. From listening to Dvorak, Bach, The Dave Matthews Band, Hapa, and Creed. From watching The Dead Poet's Society and A Beautiful Life. From reading The Awakening, The Poisonwood Bible, White Oleander, Wuthering Heights, and The Count of Monte Cristo.

That being said, relationships are what give my life meaning, love and joy. My life is full of thoughtful, smart, caring, amazing people. I can easily romanticize about a life somewhere else--but the people in my life could never be replaced. I am blessed in this significant way. My friends, Cindy, Lisa, Alex, Beth, Sue, Dorothy are constant and loyal. My mother is faithful in her love and devotion. My four siblings, Rebecca, Tommy, Kenny and Elizabeth lives are so interconnected with mine , like a finger or foot. I rely on their presence for support, love and fun, along with their spouses Tim, Destiny, Mandee, and Jeff and children Brooke, Cade, Denver and Kolae. My husband, Steven Namihas, gives me stability and history. And of course my children, Elias and Anika...they have reconnected me to a deep, archaic love and joyous heart. They are heroes in my life by their simple ways of loving laughing, forgiving, and crying.

Though I believe I will always seek passion, love and laughter in my life, I also hunger for justice, peace and love in everyone's life. I think this is how literature ties me to the rest of the world, regardless of race or religion, spanning past, present, and future generations. It's only in oppressed societies where books are banned and burned. A society that is free to think and feel and be is one where the books Twain, Hesse, and Tolstoy are treasured.

Customer Reviews

This book really kept me thinking long after finishing it.
Her writing is also beautiful, and she illuminates her main character's thoughts with informative but subtle comments on poetry, books and film.
Mrs. R. C. Tinsley
Like a good testimonial, she dramatized their truth and put a difficult question about suffering for each one of us to answer.
Jason Winton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Castigada on June 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Reading Carlson's first novel is a little like undergoing psychotherapy: it is at times demanding and unsettling, but it ultimately yields great riches.

The protagonist, Jamie, is far from perfect (in one memorable scene, she vomits while on a job interview!), yet in spite of the self-doubt and indecision which plague her as she sets out on her journey, she evidences an unswerving moral integrity that delivers her from the mire of personal tragedy and transforms her from victim into champion. It is this integrity that helps her negotiate the confusing and mysterious landscape of Fallow Springs and eventually enables her to respond to the misfortunes of others, whether they be the heartbreaking histories of her new-found friends in Fallow Springs or the catastrophic stories of the men, women, and children she meets in Darfur.

At times, Carlson's novel has a cinematographic quality, mirroring the perspective of the protagonist, whose passion for film borders on obsessive. One of the most delightful aspects of the novel is its straightforward references to some of the more familiar staples of the Gothic genre: hidden trap doors and tunnels, a mysterious and reclusive benefactor, and moonlit gardens. These tropes starkly contrast with the gritty realities of Jamie's life, and serve to underscore the mystifying nature of her psychological journey from tragedy to redemption. As Jamie is eventually able to view these elements in their proper perspective, she also gains perspective on the elements of her own life that have kept her in shadow as she emerges into the sunlight of a purposeful and committed life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E-Johnston on June 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
What a pleasure it was to read this book. I can't believe this is the authors first novel, it is a fantastic story. I will be reading this book with my book club girls and I am excited to read it again. I really felt like I was connected to the characters and their lives. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. A must have!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sharon E. Muto on August 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
Kimberly Carlson's Out of the Shadows is an entertaining work of art mixing self-discovery, passion and the internal mysteries of others around us with current humanitarian issues. Her writings are especially poignant bringing to light the struggles of the Darfuri and genocide. A must read for all who wish to be enlightened.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Judy on August 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
As the title suggests, Out of the Shadows begins in darkness and ends with the dawning of light. I found this refreshing as so much of good fiction ends in despair and without a resolution in sight.

Jamie Shire is a young woman who has lost everything to domestic violence. Sleeping on her sister Lily's sofa, she feels she has outstayed her welcome, but she literally doesn't know where to go next. She not only doesn't have a job, she has no idea of what she wants to "do." She is used up, spent. There is no longer anyone at home within.

Anyone who has ever lost herself in a bad relationship or endured intense personal sorrow will find it easy to identify with Lily's journey towards living with loss, forgiving herself, and finding a sense of direction.

Through Lily's experience, Carlson illustrates what is needed for healing to take place. In a chance meeting at a coffee shop. Akasha, a mysterious, wealthy woman, instinctively recognizes Lily as a fellow sufferer and invites her to work for her and live at her estate. Lily now has a safe place to be, a room of her own, where she also finds a small community of people who do not judge her or even ask questions. The actual job is vague- to research and find a good cause for Akasha to invest in, thus giving Lily a reason to look outward. Her research leads her to the plight of the refugees fleeing the genocide in Sudan and eventually to one of the refugee camps in Chad. As she begins to empathize with the suffering of others, she begins to heal and find her own calling.

Carlson tells her story with beauty, and grace. She sustains suspense through the gradual unfolding of the personal stories of her cast of characters which are fully individual.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Brock on June 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
Kimberly Carlson has given us a difficult gift in this finely crafted, evocative debut novel.

Through the empathetic and sometimes limited lens of her narrator, Jamie Shire, the novel unfolds as a humanitarian investigation, a troubled romance, and a journey of self-discovery. Carlson's heroine is neither heroic nor tragic, but a product of the most human of suffering--she does suffer from a deep tragedy, but against the relief of the other tragedies in the novel, it seems most sadly and typically American. The grace in Jamie's narrative is that she serves as a witness, one who has known suffering, but one who allows the other characters to tell their stories (this is Carlson's generous gift as well, to stand aside and simply let those stories unfold on their own terms). Jamie's suffering then becomes an access point, where one becomes awakened to others, where one escapes from his or her own self-absorption and pain. It's this empathetic and imaginative leap where we find hope in the most hopeless and devastating of circumstances, what we find in Dafur or Auschwitz or Sierra Leone or Syria, or in our own families.

The novel's victory isn't in how Jamie reclaims her life, but in all the small victories in living that the other survivors in the novel have actively created for themselves. To find those common joys and beauties after the horror is where grace resides, no matter how small and inconsequential and fleeting. The novel also reminds us that our efforts to comfort others also count for something.

One novel mentioned frequently in Carlson's narrative is Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence, and I find Wharton an especially relevant touchstone here.
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