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The Used World: A Novel Hardcover – September 18, 2007


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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743247787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743247788
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kimmel (Something Rising (Light and Swift); A Girl Named Zippy) returns to rural Indiana in her expansive third novel. Hazel Hunnicut is the proprietor of Hazel Hunnicut's Used World Emporium, the station at the end of the line for myriad antiques and junk in Jonah, Ind. With her passel of cats and distaste for convention, Hazel is eccentric but grudgingly beloved by her two employees: Claudia, a tall and lonely woman ostracized for her androgynous appearance, and Rebekah, who is still recovering from an oppressive Pentecostal upbringing. With a nudge from Hazel and the appearance of an abandoned infant (whose junkie mother, a friend of Hazel's junkie sister, is dead), the two women form a relationship, providing momentum as an unlikely family takes shape and hidden connections between the characters are revealed. The story has many satisfying layers, but melding them requires Kimmel to jump around in time, sometimes to confusing results (among the pasts visited are Rebekah's childhood; Hazel's upbringing and the backstory on her relationship with the locals; and dreamlike visions of a long-ago romance between a black groundskeeper and a white judge's daughter). It's an intriguing puzzle box of a novel with a few edges left unsanded. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

The Used World is the newest novel in a very loose trilogy comprised of The Solace of Leaving Early (2002) and Something Rising (Light and Swift) (***1/2 May/June 2004), both portraits of small-town life in Indiana. Here, Kimmel explores faith in religion, friendship, and family through three female outcasts whom circumstance brings together. Kimmel’s vivid, poetic writing, mixed with compassion and wry humor, reveals their multilayered lives slowly and satisfyingly. Critics noted some digressions, complex interconnections, melodrama, and confusing shifting viewpoints but praised the novel’s overall message of hope. As the character Rebekah concludes, "What feels like the end of the world never is. It never is."

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Once in a while you read a book that's so multi-layered and absorbing, you just don't want to let it go when it's finished. "The Used World" is one of those books. Other reviewers have said that they finished this book and started straight over again at the beginning, and I can see why: you have the feeling that it's so full of riches, you haven't done it justice with one read.

"The Used World" follows the threads of three women's stories and binds them together into an unexpected and unusual present. Everything you assume about love and family is shaken up and reinvented.

Hazel Hunnicutt, a woman in her sixties who lives alone with her cats, is the proprietor of the Used World Emporium, a warehouse-and-barn full of wares carrying the weight of the past. In flashbacks we learn of Hazel's love for her childhood friend Finney, a girl full of light and fun. The story of Finney's self-destructive love and its sad outcome are an undercurrent to Hazel's present.

Hazel's employees are Claudia and Rebekah. Claudia, forty years old and mourning the death of her mother, is a freakishly tall woman forever disenfranchised from the joys others take for granted.

The younger Rebekah is a refugee from a fundamentalist church, disowned by her family, pregnant by an immature young man who left her for a college girl.

Into this mix come a baby, a dog, a gentler church, some wild sisters, and the unbearable weight of past intentions and actions. Though the redemptive outcome of all these forces is never assured, ultimately there is the chance for more peace than these women have known in their troubled lives. They don't get there easily, but they do get there.

The story is simple but the structure complex, the writing magical.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Bradley on October 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The many worlds of Haven Kimmel run together in this blindingly beautiful book about the friendship of women. I've read her books all many times, can't wait to read this one all over again to catch the nuances I missed the first time through. THanks Haven!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Jacobs on August 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved the female characters in this book and their relationships with each other, and I was glad to reconnect with Amos (from THE SOLACE OF LEAVING EARLY). The more Haven Kimmel I read, the more I associate the word "redemptive" with her. Her characters have messy lives, but they manage to find their way, however imperfectly, to something fine, something good, something worth living for. It's true (as some reviewers have pointed out), that the story isn't completely linear and includes some digressions, but I like a book that keeps me on my toes.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Karen McQuillen on January 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"The Used World" is one of the best novels I've read in a long time. The key to enjoying Haven Kimmel's work is to let her stories take their time. Yes, this is difficult in these days of so much to do, not to mention the need for instant gratification! I was ready to give up on "The Solice of Leaving Early" about 50 pages into it because I couldn't figure out who was who and what was going on. However, I decided to stick with it, and it was well worth it. Both "The Used World" and "The Solice of Leaving Early" provide a payout to those take their time to savor these wonderful stories.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L. Fort on October 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I finished this book and started it right over again. I didn't want to leave the characters. When I started the book I had thought that it was going slow and had too many characters but once I was involved with poor Beckah I had to find out what happens to her. Ms Kimmel has done it again. She is one of my favorite authors.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Susan K. Schoonover VINE VOICE on May 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I admit I have only read one other of Haven Kimmel's books, THE SOLACE OF LEAVING EARLY, and I enjoyed that and thought it was well written with believable characters. Though THE USED WORLD has the same setting (apparently a fictionalized Muncie, Indiana and its surroundings) and Church of the Brethren minister Amos (and very peripherally his wife Langston) who are major characters in "SOLACE" also appear in this effort the books are quite different.

This book is filled with melodramatic, unbelievable plot lines, some borrowed from other sources, and characters who are either misunderstood, mistreated saints or the most awful caricatures of rural Midwesterners. In fact Kimmel writes with such utter contempt for those who shop at WalMart, eat at McDonalds and attend large fundamentalist churches that it was often difficult for me to continue reading. I will believe Kimmel has met and even known people from rural Indiana who commit these just mentioned transgressions but she seems to be unable to convey any empathy for or write about such individuals with any genuineness or respect for them as fellow humans.

Some portions of the book are well written enough but other segments are awkward and unclear and a little editing and rewriting would have been beneficial. A pet peeve of mine is how invisible rural working class Americans are in today's mass media. I do appreciate Ms Kimmel setting her book(s) among the ordinary folks of rural Indiana but I am disappointed by her inability to see beyond the usual stereotypes of residents of such areas at least in this novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Crawford VINE VOICE on January 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Haven Kimmel has created an everytown in Jonah, Indiana. You feel its deep, rich history as you see it through the eyes of its three main characters. Hazel, the owner of The Used World Emporium, a secondhand store and her two employees, Rebekah, the young and dumped daughter of a cult member, and Claudia, the big, strong 40-ish misfit may be nothing like you, but you will still wish they were your friends.

On the surface, these women live simple, even boring lives in a mundane small town. But, as you read, you'll uncover layers of intrigue and you'll want to discover what makes them tick and how they will react to the challenges they face.

This book is anything but preachy, but you will totally feel Kimmel's seminary attendance in the thorough and compelling religious influence. Claudia and Rebekah both wrestle with questions of faith and church. Claudia's pastor, Amos, is another character you'll wish you knew. I'd buy him a cup of coffee, myself.

If you are looking to read something that gives you a glimpse behind the curtain of our public personas, read this book.
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