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The Kindness of Strangers Paperback – January 2, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Master caterer Sarah Laden is barely holding her life together as a widow with two difficult sons—recalcitrant teen Nate and troubled fifth-grader Danny—when the unthinkable happens. Her best friend and neighbor, Courtney Kendrick, is arrested in a child sex abuse scandal. Courtney's husband has vanished; their 11-year-old son, Jordan, is in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt; and across the street Nate is finding, in Jordan's backpack, evidence of unthinkable abuse. Kittle (Traveling Light; Two Truths and a Lie) crafts a disturbing but compelling story line, as Sarah, Nate and Jordan uncover and come to terms with the horror in alternating chapters. Sarah, for instance, is shocked to learn that she dropped off food for the Kendricks' sex parties; Jordan must decide whether or not he wants to continue a relationship with his mother—who insists she's innocent—if and when she gets acquitted. Kittle's research sits awkwardly in expository dialogue—"One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their eighteenth birthdays," intones the detective who will later become Sarah's love interest—but it doesn't slow the momentum. Though the movement is toward healing, there are bumpy roads ahead for everybody in this melodramatic but gripping read. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sarah Laden is a widow with two sons, Nate and Danny, and a thriving catering business. Her best friend, Courtney, helped her through the horrible days after her husband's death and is always there when she's needed. Her son, Jordan, is even Danny's best friend. Then one day all that changes. In a nightmare chain of events, Sarah discovers that she really didn't know Courtney at all and poor, odd Jordan has been living a hell no one could imagine. As Courtney waits in jail, Sarah decides at the request of her older son, Nate, to take on the foster care of Jordan, with all its painful ramifications. Child sexual abuse is hard to read about and Kittle sometimes gets a little heavy-handed with her facts and statistics. But told through the perspectives of Sarah, Nate, Danny, and Jordan, this is ultimately an attractive story of ordinary people trying to make the best of an awful situation and finding the healing power of love and forgiveness in the process. Elizabeth Dickie
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 393 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; English Language edition (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060564784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060564780
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (199 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Katrina Kittle is the author of 5 novels, most recently THE BLESSINGS OF THE ANIMALS and REASONS TO BE HAPPY. She lives in Dayton, Ohio, where she teaches creative writing, gardens, runs, and is addicted to coffee and movies. She tries not to be bitter that her cat Joey is more popular on Facebook than she is. You can find out more at her website www.katrinakittle.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Valerie on June 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I had little idea what this book was truly about when I picked it up but I am glad I did. I loved it. LOVED IT!!!! As a therapist I work with children who have been sexually abused and I also work with sexual offenders. The author did her homework people! It was accurate and I have a deep appreciation for the realism and not the sensationalized versions I so often see in fictional books. I was in supsense, sick to my stomach, angry, saddened, relieved, and touched by the entire book. I lost sleep but not because I was thinking but because I couldn't put the book down! If I never read another book again I can be proud I read this one. AMAZING!!!
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on March 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS by Katrina Kittle

March 16, 2007

Rating: 4 Stars

I actually read this book last year, but never got around to doing the amazon review. KINDNESS OF STRANGERS was one of my favorite books from 2006, a book that some will find the subject matter a little hard to take. It centers on one family, and a boy that they take in because his parents are accused of sexually abusing him. The story is something out of today's sordid headlines, but I felt the author did a good job at telling the story and keeping the focus on the family and the boy, and not on the actual acts that were committed on the boy and many others.

The story begins in the present in happier times. But then the reader is taken back to the past with the story of Jordan, the young boy that is being abused, as well as the story of Sarah Laden and her family, and how they cope with the death of their father. They are already going through a lot before they take in Jordan, a boy they had known for a long time but never knew what went on behind closed doors.

What makes things worse is that Sarah had been best friends with the next door neighbors, and to learn of the possibility of sexual abuse was something Sarah refused to believe.

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS was such an engaging novel that I finished it one day. The viewpoints alternate between various characters, giving the reader different sides to the story. Well-written with characters that felt realistic and three dimensional, I highly recommend this book.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Susan Wenger on February 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Katrina Kittle can write. In addition to a fantastic plot and expert pacing, she gives us dialogue that reads like the way people really talk. It's particularly refreshing to experience eleven-year-old characters who, though intelligent, actually talk like eleven-year-olds and not like very short adults.

Please don't avoid this book because of its disturbing subject matter. THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS is well worth it.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Kay on March 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS is one of the best books I've ever read. Like Jodi Picoult's MY SISTER'S KEEPER, Ms. Kittle's book haunts you for days after you've finished the last page. I started reading THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS one afternoon and only put it down to sleep and eat, finishing it the next afternoon. The subject matter is tough to read about, yet you cannot stop because you quickly grow to care about all of the characters, especially Jordan. It's horrible that we have such monsters among us--people who prey on innocent children, people who are so sick they make US sick. Bravo, Ms. Kittle. You've written a story every person who cares about children should read.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Bibliotheque on February 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This a haunting, compelling, beautiful, disturbing, impossible to put down book on a very difficult subject. I was awake at night until 2am because I just could not stop reading. As a victim of similar abuse, I was moved by how Katrina managed to depict the events and characters without alienating the reader. Having seen Katrina recently at a book signing, I learned that this book took her 8 years to write--she definitely put her heart and soul into it, which is apparent from page one! I cannot adequately praise her incredible writing, character development, and research. She also shared that her editor convinced her to write the prologue and epilogue, which take place many years later. The purpose of these chapters is to show the reader some "mercy" and let them know that even though they are embarking on a very difficult journey with her through the book, everyone comes out OK. Unfortunately, atrocities against children happen in our own neighborhoods and are usually family members or trusted adults. I recommend this book for anyone--my husband is reading it now and cannot put it down either.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer K. G. on November 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This novel does work with powerfully emotional subjects - loss, death, grief, child molestation... But ultimately, The Kindness of Strangers is a novel about surviving the terrible things that happen to individuals and families. Many people may avoid this book because of the subject matter; please don't - it's a beautifully crafted piece of fiction that handles difficult emotions without messy pathos, and shows us characters who move on and thrive after experiencing some of the most terrible things that can happen. I find the "literature of dysfunction" utterly tedious, and Ms. Kittle's novel rises far above that banal genre. Yes, horrible things happen to good people, but a hell of a lot great things happen too.

Another reviewer complained about time inconsistencies, which I have re-checked in the first edition copy at hand. The reviewer apparently didn't realize that the narrator was speaking from a perspective in the future in the opening chapter, which takes place some 12 years after the main plot events. As John Irving wrote, "...you should either stop reading books, or try a lot harder. "
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