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Kindred Hardcover – February 8, 2011
Miriam drops out of college near the end of her freshman year after failing to save another student from bodily harm. She lands a newspaper job in a small Tennessee town but discovers soon after her move that her cramps and weight loss derive from Crohn’s disease. Miriam has a lot with which to cope: her new independence, her physical deterioration, a possible boyfriend, and a boss who is more interested in scooping news than caring about those who make it. Oh, and she also has visions of angels—and her twin brother is in cahoots with Satan. The multiple plot strands, as well as Miriam’s relationship with her twin and her mission to help a young local who seems intent on avenging himself with heavy artillery, are wound together to form a credible world, featuring a flawed but admirable heroine. The story demands thought and reflection from readers about the gray area between good and evil and the real differences between faith and systematic religion, tasks made easier by smooth writing and an engaging cast of rounded characters. Grades 8-11. --Francisca Goldsmith
About the Author
TAMMAR STEIN is the author of Light Years, a 2006 ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and High Dive. She lives in Florida with her family and her bilingual dog.
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Top Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed this smart and engaging read. Stein's first-person, present tense story of self-discovery unsuspectingly grabs a hold of you with a thrilling meeting between Stein's narrator, Miriam, and the terrifying Biblical angel, Raphael. While navigating adulthood, the 18 year old Miriam faces a mysterious illness, the excitement of working as a journalist for a local paper, her relationship with her twin brother, a possible romantic relationship, and celestial assignments. With memorable and detailed characters you cannot help but think about for days after finishing the book, and a charming setting that makes you want to get in the car to go visit, Stein has me wanting more.
That all changes, however, when the archangel Raphael crashes into her dorm room. The terrifying presence speaks a command to her in ancient Hebrew and then disappears. When Miriam, justifiably troubled by the vision, translates his words, she realizes she has a mission to carry out, but she's reluctant...or maybe just skeptical. But when a horrific event proves both the accuracy of Raphael's prophecy and the inadequacies of Miriam's actions, she grows wary. What is God's plan for her? Does He have more expectations for her future actions? And will He punish her for failing to carry them through as He had hoped?
Meanwhile, Miriam --- who is so shaken by her encounter with the angel that she drops out of school and takes a job at a small newspaper in rural Tennessee --- learns that her twin brother Moses also has had his own encounter with spiritual forces. In Mo's case, however, the power is not godly but demonic, and Mo has been chosen to carry out the devil's own work on earth. Is it possible that these twin siblings, formerly so close to one another, are now just pawns in some kind of cosmic spiritual war?
To say that KINDRED is an unusual YA book would be a huge understatement. Angels in young adult literature are not particularly new, but the terrifying, vaguely vindictive angels of Tammar Stein's novel certainly are. These are the kinds of angels with whom the biblical Jacob wrestled, and Miriam wrestles, too, as she continually struggles with questions of faith and doubt, and the search for God's plan for her life.
These are heady concerns, of course, but another of the book's unusual aspects is that these spiritual and theological concerns are grounded in the earthiest way possible. Miriam befriends local farmers through her work at the newspaper, she starts dating the small town's only tattoo artist, and, most vividly (possibly disturbingly, to some readers), she grapples with some very distressing, deeply humbling physical ailments of her own. The detailed descriptions of Miriam's digestive problems might be enough to turn off some readers, but as Miriam (who views this bodily degradation, at times, as the angels' revenge) herself notes, "This is the worst part, the ugliest part, of a human body to break down. The contrast between my writhing, sweaty form and the perfect and cold celestial beauty of the angels couldn't be greater or clearer. I am nothing but mud."
Miriam's humility and disappointment --- sometimes bordering on self-hatred --- as she fails to follow through on the angels' commands may lead some to wonder whether the angels themselves (not to mention Mo's demons) are real or merely products of Miriam's troubled mind. Are they actual characters, or metaphors for spiritual struggles and truths? KINDRED is probably not a novel for everyone, but it will speak to readers who like their fiction to raise provocative questions rather than provide easy answers, who wouldn't mind doing a little wrestling of their own with angels.
--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
Quick & Dirty: This was an interesting YA contemporary read with a heavy religious presence. The pacing was pretty slow, but it had a good message.
Opening Sentence: The first time I meet an angel, it is Raphael and I am eighteen.
Miriam is 18 and has just recently started her freshman year of college when she sees an angel for the first time. She is sent on a mission to help save one of her fellow students, but not everything goes the way she planned. After a terrible accident Miriam decides to leave school for a while and she takes a job at a paper in the small town of Hamilton, Tennessee. While in Hamilton, she meets a lot of new people and she grapples with what role God really plays in our lives. She is given another mission and she is determined to see this one through.
Miriam has a twin brother, Mo, and he has also been visited by a higher power. Mo's visitor is from the opposite end of the good-evil spectrum and he seems to be all too pleased to help. As children Mo and Miriam were always very close. Mo was always the more ambitious one that liked to test the boundaries. As Miriam watches her brother flirt with danger Miriam starts to wonder what her real mission is.
Miriam is our heroine in this story and to be honest, she is a fairly forgettable character. There is really nothing that sticks out about her that makes her unique or really interesting. For most of the book she is really confused about what is going on in her life and she is bitter about it. She really cares about her family and she tries to do what she thinks God would want her to do. I wouldn't say that I disliked Miriam, but I didn't really like her all that much either.
Emmett was my favorite part of the book. He is a serious boy that runs a tattoo parlor in Hamilton. He has tattoos all over his body and a shaved head. Miriam finds him interesting and surprisingly easy to talk to. He is steady and really sweet to Miriam, while she is going through her problems. He is willing to listen to her when she needs someone to talk to and he tries to be a comfort to her. The moments with them together are sweet and Emmett just melted my heart.
This book was just an ok read for me. I was expecting something totally different when I read the synopsis. I thought that it would be more of a paranormal read, but instead it is actually more of a religious contemporary book. The pacing was really slow for me and for most of the book it felt like nothing was really happening. My favorite part was the romance, but it was a very small part of the book. The book covers some serious religious topics and the way they were portrayed just didn't quite work for me. Kindred did have a good ending message, but the story just had a lot of flaws. I would recommend this to anyone that likes YA contemporary books with a heavy religious presence.
FTC Advisory: Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House provided me with a copy of Kindred. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ms. Stein has created a fascinating and unusual novel. The interaction of the supernatural (visits from angels) and the mundane are skillfully...Read more