A Complicated Kindness by Miriam ToewsA Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toewssticker-burst

A Complicated Kindness

byMiriam Toews

Paperback | May 1, 2007

Pricing and Purchase Info

$15.44 online 
$21.00 list price save 26%
Earn 77 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


Sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel longs to hang out with Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull in New York City’s East Village. Instead she’s trapped in East Village, Manitoba, a small town whose population is Mennonite: “the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you’re a teenager.” East Village is a town with no train and no bar whose job prospects consist of slaughtering chickens at the Happy Family Farms abattoir or churning butter for tourists at the pioneer village. Ministered with an iron fist by Nomi’s uncle Hans, a.k.a. The Mouth of Darkness, East Village is a town that’s tall on rules and short on fun: no dancing, drinking, rock ’n’ roll, recreational sex, swimming, make-up, jewellery, playing pool, going to cities or staying up past nine o’clock.

As the novel begins, Nomi struggles to cope with the back-to-back departures three years earlier of Tash, her beautiful and mouthy sister, and Trudie, her warm and spirited mother. She lives with her father, Ray, a sweet yet hapless schoolteacher whose love is unconditional but whose parenting skills amount to benign neglect. Father and daughter deal with their losses in very different ways. Ray, a committed elder of the church, seeks to create an artificial sense of order by reorganizing the city dump late at night. Nomi, on the other hand, favours chaos as she tries to blunt her pain through “drugs and imagination.” Together they live in a limbo of unanswered questions.

Nomi’s first person narrative shifts effortlessly between the present and the past. Within the present, Nomi goes through the motions of finishing high school while flagrantly rebelling against Mennonite tradition. She hangs out on Suicide Hill, hooks up with a boy named Travis, goes on the Pill, wanders around town, skips class and cranks Led Zeppelin. But the past is never far from her mind as she remembers happy times with her mother and sister — as well as the painful events that led them to flee town. Throughout, in a voice both defiant and vulnerable, she offers hilarious and heartbreaking reflections on life, death, family, faith and love.

Eventually Nomi’s grief — and a growing sense of hypocrisy — cause her to spiral ever downward to a climax that seems at once startling and inevitable. But even when one more loss is heaped on her piles of losses, Nomi maintains hope and finds the imagination and willingness to envision what lies beyond.

Few novels in recent years have generated as much excitement as A Complicated Kindness. Winner of the Governor General’s Award and a Giller Prize Finalist, Miriam Toews’s third novel has earned both critical acclaim and a long and steady position on our national bestseller lists. In the Globe and Mail, author Bill Richardson writes the following: “There is so much that’s accomplished and fine. The momentum of the narrative, the quality of the storytelling, the startling images, the brilliant rendering of a time and place, the observant, cataloguing eye of the writer, her great grace. But if I had to name Miriam Toews’s crowning achievement, it would be the creation of Nomi Nickel, who deserves to take her place beside Daisy Goodwill Flett, Pi Patel and Hagar Shipley as a brilliantly realized character for whom the reader comes to care, okay, comes to love.”

This town is so severe. And silent. It makes me crazy, the silence. I wonder if a person can die from it. The town office building has a giant filing cabinet full of death certificates that say choked to death on his own anger or suffocated from unexpressed feelings of unhappiness. Silentium. People here just can’t wait to die, it seems. It’s the main event. The only reason we’re not all snuffed at birth is because that would reduce our suffering by a lifetime. My guidance counsellor has suggested to me that I change my attitude about this place and learn to love it. But I do, I told her. Oh, that’s rich, she said. That’s rich. . .

We’re Mennonites. After Dukhobors who show up naked in court we are the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you’re a teenager. Five hundred years ago in Europe a man named Menno Simons set off to do his own peculiar religious thing and he and his followers were beaten up and killed or forced to conform all over Holland, Poland, and Russia until they, at least some of them, finally landed right here where I sit. Imagine the least well-adjusted kid in your school starting a breakaway clique of people whose manifesto includes a ban on the media, dancing, smoking , temperate climates, movies, drinking, rock’n’roll, having sex for fun, swimming, makeup, jewellery, playing pool, going to cities, or staying up past nine o’clock. That was Menno all over. Thanks a lot, Menno.
—from A Complicated Kindness
Miriam Toews (pronounced tâves) was born in 1964 in the small Mennonite town of Steinbach, Manitoba. She left Steinbach at 18, living in Montreal and London and touring Europe before coming back to Manitoba, where she earned her B.A. in film studies at the University of Manitoba. Later she packed up with her children and partner and mo...
Title:A Complicated KindnessFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.1 × 5.3 × 0.8 inPublished:May 1, 2007Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0676978568

ISBN - 13:9780676978568

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Made me a fan I read this book years ago. It made me a fan of Miriam Toews and I sought out more of her books. She's a great Canadian author!
Date published: 2018-04-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Couldn't get into it I have tried to read this several times and each time I get fewer pages into it before I put it down. While I love quirky characters, I just couldn't relate. I really wanted to like this book, but just couldn't do it.
Date published: 2018-02-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not Good I had to read this in grade 10 English. It was not a good book to be given to 15-year-olds. It is very boring and the plot is chaotic.
Date published: 2017-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from One to Read Again and Again I've read this novel a few times now and I pick up something new out of the story through every read-through. The pages are filled with happiness and sadness, character actions that are relatable and characters actions that are utterly confounding, and the inner monologue of a character living a beautiful, but melancholic life.
Date published: 2017-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful! I'm torn between feeling frustrated at Nomi and wishing she were real because we would have been best friends as teenagers. A fantastic, coming-of-age novel about a Mennonite family and rebellion.
Date published: 2017-08-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Couldn't get into it I bought this years ago and tried reading it many times and simply couldn't get into it. It was one of those books that clearly I can't attempt to read at night because I would wake up, book on face on the same page I started on!
Date published: 2017-07-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from okay interesting book about Mennonite life. Miriam Toews is a different kind of writer. you love her or hate her, no inbetween.
Date published: 2017-07-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from So good I read it twice. It was really good, very realistic.
Date published: 2017-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Toews' work I loved this book. Toew's books are such a mix of funny, sad and poignant. The characters are so lovable and your heart just breaks for the.#plumrewards
Date published: 2017-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting topic Toews is a gifted writer and i really enjoyed this story.
Date published: 2017-05-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Read for school I read this book for school many years ago and I did not like it. It simply was not for me. I should try reading it as an adult though.
Date published: 2017-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved This Book! I know that some people find Miriam Toews' style of writing to be hard to get into, but I personally love everything she writes. This is the first book of hers that I read, and I was absolutely hooked! The character of Nomi is so real and heartbreaking, and I found myself absorbed in her life and community.
Date published: 2017-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well written read Well written and interesting read about Mennonite life.
Date published: 2017-04-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a story! A great addition to your library.
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Good story. I read it on a week and can appreciate the skill of the writing that lead it to win the GG.
Date published: 2017-04-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Slow I had to read this for school. It was very slow paced and I found it very hard to get into. It was interesting to read about the Mennonite way of life. I didn't enjoy it at all.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good read I really enjoyed this book and did not want to put it down. Funny, sad and compelling. A great Canadian author, a great book. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites I've had this book for years and it's still one of my favourites. Hilarious and sad and inspiring, it works for teens and adults alike!
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I found this book hilarious and tragic at the same time. I loved the characters, especially Nomi. I will be reading more Miriam Toews!
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Nothing Special Had to read this book for a bookclub. Found it slow moving and hard to get into. Learning about the Mennonite ways of life was interesting. Found it hard to get into, but managed to finish it.
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Great story, characters, and writing - this one stayed with me.
Date published: 2017-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites. The writing in this book isn't for everyone. I personally found this book tragic, funny, and moving all at the same time. The narrative pulled me in and kept me stuck to the pages until the very end.
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Concept The characters are interesting and the story line has real potential. The story line lost its fizzle near the middle of the book and it was hard to finish the book. As an avid reader of all genres and for depth of character this book received three stars but this in not on the list of recommendations for family and freinds. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-01-06
Rated 2 out of 5 by from no that great I found it hard to get into and didn't finish the book
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Complicated Feelings This book made me both laugh and cry, often at the same time. It is beautifully written, and the story is heartbreaking, but there's so much hope still to be found. I highly recommend this book. I had to read it for a university class and I was not disappointed.
Date published: 2016-11-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Wasn't Interesting There may be some readers who have enjoyed this book, but I was not one of them. I can tell it's a great book but not of my taste as it gave me no interest or motivation to read. Not much of a book worm, but what I can say is if you're Christian, or if you lived in a society where you had to live by rules or be obedient to certain things; you can relate to this novel. The wording is nice, the story is good. Overall I did not enjoy it, but it's a great story.
Date published: 2015-04-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful Painful to read
Date published: 2014-11-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A complicated kindness I couldn't finish this book. I found it very dull, dry, boring.
Date published: 2014-07-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Can't say I loved it. The characterization is very good,but the story didn't wholly engage me. It is a story of being brought up Mennonite, but not connecting or belonging, and the pain of loss and apathy. A story with so much hope and so much sadness in the character. I actually loved the ending,so I'm glad I stuck through it when at times I near abandoned it. But I did like the protagonist Nomi and wanted to see where her journey ended.
Date published: 2014-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Can't say I loved it. Highly recommend this book. Story is full of complexity but also realistically depicts the moods and actions of a strong willed teenager as she faces the reality of her life. Both funny and very sad. Love the style the author used in telling Nomi's story.
Date published: 2014-03-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A complicated kindness This is a comedic but heartbreaking journey into the life of the Mennonites in Manitoba. The author takes us along with Nomi, a teenage girl, as she faces the challenges of adolescence in the Mennonite community while her family, and furniture, disappear. This story is told in such a unique way that it keeps you turning the pages. It is a dark story, but is told in such a way that the struggles and relationships seem trivial and funny. Very unique and enjoyable. :)
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Complicated Kindness It took me a while to want to stay with the book. I was glad I did. The characters came to life and each took on a unique identity that brought on emotion and empathy. Well done!
Date published: 2013-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Book, a Disappointing Conclusion The main character in this book is hilarious while tragic. Excellent writing for the bulk of the novel, you are really captured by Nomi's sad, lost life. The ending, however, leaves something to be desired - same "but wait, this isn't the end, right?" feeling I had reading The Flying Troutmans, also by Towes.
Date published: 2011-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Toews' humor! Toews' writing never disappoints, her dry wit, and timing are pitch perfect, her ability to make me laugh in situations or on topics that I wouldn't normally find funny is a testament to just how talented a writer she is! I adore her dysfunctional characters, and Nomi Nickel is no exception! A MUST read!
Date published: 2011-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! Read this book! No, seriously, go...NOW! I loved it! It was hard to understand at first, but it was very enjoyable and Nomi's character is easy to relate to. I was completely immersed in the storyline and plot and couldn't put the book down! Granted, I did have to read this for school, but I enjoyed it nonetheless!
Date published: 2009-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing novel Nomi is just an average sixteen year old girl living in a small town, the only thing different is she's a mennonite. Her mother and sister both left three years before this novel takes place. Her sister left with her boyfriend and her mom was ex-communicated. Yes, they live in a town that does that. Nomi once was very devoted to her religion, but at sixteen she is questioning it and has become a stoner. Things she she would never do. Throughout the novel, Nomi tries to figure out where her mother and sister could have went upon leaving. She tries to come up with different scenerios on why they left, because she had been kept in the dark all those years ago. This novel is different than any I have read before. I have never read a book where a mennonite girl is narrating. As a side notw, the town I live in is home to many mennonites and it was interesting to read the authors take on their lives. Not a disappointing read at all.
Date published: 2009-06-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful This is possibly one of the worse books I have ever read considering the hype that was made about it. The characters were flat and not particularly likable. The story went nowhere and just dragged on and on. Highly disappointing.
Date published: 2009-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Definitely a difficult one to put down A Complicated Kindness was a story that was written purposely almost to leave you feeling a bit depressed about the state of the main character/narrarator Nomi, a girl living in a mennonite society that shares none of the same beliefs or values with the rest of her mennonite community. She feels extremely trapped and isolated in her own town, and is almost polar opposites with everyone she knows. Her most fulfilling dream would be to go and live in a crowded city like New York City. Nomi's older sister Tash, and her mother Trudie left when she was 13 - they felt the same way as Nomi, thus, leaving Nomi with her father Ray. This novel was written very well, with a unique style, much symbolism incorporated, yet with all the deepness involved, it still has a very witty and funny type of dark humour that is easily recognizable within the novel. A quick read, but not an easy one.
Date published: 2009-03-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Read This book definitely had a unique writing style. Follow the adventures of a troubled Mennonite teenage girl, living in a Mennonite village, who seems to have given up hope on life, but not her belief in God. After being abandoned by half of her family (her mom and her sister), she ridicules her religion, but still believes in heaven and hell and is often anxious over her end result in life.
Date published: 2009-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from read all of Miriams books I know this book is a novel however the characters and place are very real and true. I also grew up in a sheltered Mennonite community and this book made me laugh until I cried. Miriam wirtes so great that you smell the summer air and feel like you are walking down the streets of this town. I have all of Miriams books and am so excited that a new one is coming this fall called The Flying Troutmans.
Date published: 2008-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A truly complicated kindness This is the kind of book that you will either love or hate. I loved it. It expresses perfectly the feeling of hating something but at the same time being unable to let it go. Coming from a much more progressive, yet still Mennonite background I could identify with many of the oppressive qualities of a small Mennonite town. On the other hand, nothing I ever experienced came remotely close to what the protagonist experiences. So, in all fairness, I don't think the reader comes away with a sense of what it is like to be a typical Mennonite. Instead, what makes this book good is that it perfectly describes a situation where you desperately want to leave, but you just can't find a way. it could be a job, a relationship, an addiction, whatever. So much of the imagery in the book revolves around that theme. The oppressive odor of the chicken barn, the killing of chickens, the harsh, mean, oppressive religion. It describes, in fact, the position that many people find themselves in. I think that's why it has found such a broad readership.
Date published: 2008-05-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautifully Brilliant A Complicated Kindness is a beautifully sad story. Nomi goes through so much in her life and she’s only 16. I would never have though that a novel about a Mennonite girl could be so captivating. Miriam Toews is brilliant. Nomi’s story is so emotional, so tangible; it breaks my heart a little. The emotions reached out and grabbed me. The only way to make them let go was to put the book down. Then, of course, you are left with the longing of wanting to know what happens to Nomi. It is a struggle between love, faith and freedom.
Date published: 2008-01-17

Read from the Book

OneI live with my father, Ray Nickel, in that low brick bungalow out on highway number twelve. Blue shutters, brown door, one shattered window. Nothing great. The furniture keeps disappearing, though. That keeps things interesting.Half of our family, the better-looking half, is missing. Ray and I get up in the morning and move through our various activities until it’s time to go to bed. Every single night around ten o’clock Ray tells me that he’s hitting the hay. Along the way to his bedroom he’ll stop in the front hallway and place notes on top of his shoes to remind him of the things he has to do the next day. We enjoy staring at the Northern Lights together. I told him, verbatim, what Mr. Quiring told us in class. About how those lights work. He thought Mr. Quiring had some interesting points. He’s always been mildly interested in Mr. Quiring’s opinions, probably because he’s also a teacher.I have assignments to complete. That’s the word, complete. I’ve got a problem with endings. Mr. Quiring has told me that essays and stories generally come, organically, to a preordained ending that is quite out of the writer’s control. He says we will know it when it happens, the ending. I don’t know about that. I feel that there are so many to choose from. I’m already anticipating failure. That much I’ve learned to do. But then what the hell will it matter to me while I’m snapping tiny necks and chucking feathery corpses onto a conveyor belt in a dimly lit cinder-block slaughterhouse on the edge of a town not of this world. Most of the kids from around here will end up working at Happy Family Farms, where local chickens go to meet their maker. I’m sixteen now, young to be on the verge of graduating from high school, and only months away from taking my place on the assembly line of death.One of my recurring memories of my mother, Trudie Nickel, has to do with the killing of fowl. She and I were standing in this farmyard watching Carson and his dad chop heads off chickens. You’d know Carson if you saw him. Carson Enns. Arm-farter in the back row. President of the Pervert Club. Says he’s got a kid in Pansy, a small town south of here. Troubled boy, but that’s no wonder considering he used to be The Snowmobile Suit Killer. I was eight and Trudie was about thirty-five. She was wearing a red wool coat and moon boots. The ends of her hair were frozen because she hadn’t been able to find the blow-dryer that morning. Look, she’d said. She grabbed a strand of hair and bent it like a straw. She’d given me her paisley scarf to tie around my ears. I don’t know exactly what we were doing at Carson’s place in the midst of all that carnage, it hadn’t started out that way I’m pretty sure, but I guess carnage has a way of creeping up on you. Carson was my age and every time he swung the axe he’d yell things at the chicken. He wanted it to escape. Run, you stupid chicken! Carson, his dad would say. Just his name and a slight anal shake of the head. He was doing his best to nurture the killer in his son. It was around 4:30 in the afternoon on a winter day and the light was fading into blue and it was snowing horizontally and we were all standing under a huge yellow yard light. Well, some of us were dying. And Carson was doing this awful botch job on a chicken, hacking away at its neck, not doing it right at all, whispering instructions on how to escape. Fly away, idiot. Don’t make me do this. Poor kid. By this time he’d unzipped the top half of his snowmobile suit so it kind of flapped around his waist like a skirt, slowing him down, and his dad saw him and came over and grabbed the semi-mutilated chicken out of Carson’s little mittened hand and slapped it onto this wooden altar thing he used to do the killing and brought his axe down with incredible speed and accuracy and in less than a second had created a splattery painting in the snow and I was blown away by how the blood could land so fast and without a single sound and my mom gasped and said look, Nomi, it’s a Jackson Pollock. Oh, it’s beautiful. Oh, she said, cloths of heaven. That was something she said a lot. And Carson and I stood there staring at the blood on the snow and my mom said: Just like that. Who knew it could be so easy.I don’t know if she meant it’s so easy to make art or it’s so easy to kill a chicken or it’s so easy to die. Every single one of those things strikes me as being difficult to do. I imagine that if she were here right now and I was asking her what she meant, she’d say what are you talking about and I’d say nothing and that would be the end of it.It’s only because she’s gone that all those trivial little things from the past echo on and on and on. At dinner that night, after the slaughter at Carson’s place, she asked us how we would feel if for some reason we were all in comas and had slept right through the summer months and had woken up around the middle of November, would we be angry that we had missed the warmth and beauty of the summer or happy that we had survived. Ray, who hates choosing, had asked her if we couldn’t be both and she’d said no, she didn’t think so.Trudie doesn’t live here any more. She left shortly after Tash, my older sister, left. Ray and I don’t know where either one of them is. We do know that Tash left with Ian, who is Mr. Quiring’s nephew. He’s double-jointed and has a red Ford Econoline van. Trudie seems to have left alone.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.

Bookclub Guide

1. Nomi frequently interrupts her narrative to comment on word choice — both her own and that of others. Unreal, party, groovy, two-wheeler, keel, blouse and future are a few examples. What does language represent to Nomi? In what way is her fascination with words informed by her Mennonite upbringing?2. Nomi describes herself and Ray as “two mental patients just getting through another day.” The novel contains many other references to insanity. What elements of a rigidly interpreted Mennonite religion would you say are not conducive to robust mental health?3. Mr. Quiring appears on the first page of the book then plays a seemingly minor role until the last chapter. How would you describe his presence in the novel — both in terms of the story itself and how the story is told? What does Nomi mean when she says: “You provided my family with an ending”?4. Nomi has been described as a “latter-day Holden Caulfield.” What aspects of A Complicated Kindness make it a coming-of-age story that resonates with readers regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds?5. Of the bloodstain on her wall, Nomi writes: “…every time I looked at it I was reminded that I was, at that very moment, not bleeding from my face. And those are powerful words of hope, really.” What role does hope play in the novel? How does each member of the Nickel family experience hope?6. What is the significance of the book’s title? Would you describe the departures of Trudi and Ray as acts of “a complicated kindness”? What other scenes reveal this quality at play?7. How would you characterize Nomi’s style of humour? What function does it serve for her? What passages stand out for you as especially funny?8. Discuss the symbolic significance of the following images: the ugly black dresses “dancing wildly in the wind;” Trudie’s passport in the drawer; the graffiti on passing trains.9. What is Nomi’s vision of an ideal family? How do her views change over the course of the book?10. It seems that the people of East Village are forced to live a contradiction: the tangible world is false; the hereafter is real. How does Nomi ultimately come to terms with this contradiction? Consider, for instance, her “new religion” as she describes it in Chapter 24.

Editorial Reviews

"Miriam Toews, the award winning Canadian author, embodies Nomi's voice with such an authentic and manic charm that it's hard not to fall in love with her... A Complicated Kindness captures the struggles of a family and its individuals in a fresh, wondrous style. Despite this complexity of family tensions, much of A Complicated Kindness is pleasantly plotless. The looseness of Nomi's worldview, the sometimes blurry nonfocus of it, the unexpected sideways humor, make this book the beautiful and bitter little masterpiece it is." —The Believer“Poignant....Bold, tender and intelligent, this is a clear-eyed exploration of belief and belonging, and the irresistible urge to escape both.”—Publishers Weekly“Wise, edgy, unforgettable, the heroine of Miriam Toews’s knockout novel is Canada’s next classic.”—Globe and Mail Books section cover“A Complicated Kindness is just that: funny and strange, spellbinding and heartbreaking, this novel is a complicated kindness from a terrifically talented writer.”—Gail Anderson-Dargatz“Why the compulsion to laugh so often and so heartily when reading A Complicated Kindness? That's the book's mystery and its miracle. Has any of our novelists ever married, so brilliantly, the funny — and I mean posture-damaging, shoulder-heaving, threaten- the- grip- of- gravity- on- recently- ingested- food brand of funny — and the desperately sad —that would be the three-ply- tissue, insufficient- to- the- day, who- knew- I- had- this- much- snot- in- me brand of sad? I don't think so.”—The Globe and Mail“Truly wonderful…. A Complicated Kindness is…one of the year's exuberant reads. Toews recreates the stultifying world of an exasperated Mennonite teenager in a small town where nothing happens with mesmerizing authenticity. . . . Toews seduces the reader with her tenderness, astute observation and piquant humour. But then she turns the laughs she’s engendered in the reader like a knife.”—Toronto Star“Right away we’re hooked on our narrator’s [Nomi’s] mournful smarts….A Complicated Kindness is affecting, impeccably written, and has real authority, but most of all it is immediate. You — as they say — are there….like waking up in a crazy Bible camp, or witnessing an adolescent tour guide tear off her uniform and make a break for the highway.”—Quill & Quire“...knockout novel. …There’s leave-taking in this book. But there’s wholeness, too. It is a joy.”—Jennifer Wells, Toronto Star“Now comes A Complicated Kindness, in which Toews’ deft hand combines aspects of her previous subjects — love, small-town politics, rigid religious parameters, depression, — and comes up with something completely new.”—Leslie Beaton Hedley, Calgary Herald“A Complicated Kindness struck me like a blow to the solar plexus. Toews, somewhat like Mordecai Richler, makes you feel the pain of her protagonist while elucidating the predicament of her people, always mixing a large dose of empathy with her iconoclastic sense of the ridiculous. When she’s funny, she’s wickedly so. But the book has a dark, disturbing side to it that grows stronger as the story progresses.”—Pat Donnelly, The Gazette (Montreal)“In novel full of original characters…Toews has created a feisty but appealing young heroine…. As an indictument against religious fundamentalism, A Complicated Kindness is timely. As a commentary on character it is fresh and inventive, and as storytelling it is first rate.”—The London Free Press“Toew’s offers up a wickedly funny new voice…. Nomi is wickedly funny, irreverent, intelligent and compassionate. Toews masteres the character’s voice and never allows her own to intrude."—Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary)“A Complicated Kindness works its way up to a powerful ending through the accumulation of anecdote and detail…. Toew’s sense of the absurd works brilliantly to expose the hypocrisy of fundamentalist kindness, a love in reality all too conditional…. A Complicated Kindness, at its core, is a depiction of the battle between hope and despair … yet along the way we are treated to an unforgettable summer with a heroine who loses everything but it s ultimately able to hold on to life, to a sense of herself, and to maintain her courage and optimism In the face of a world without any guaranteed happy endings.”—Georgia Straight“A Complicated Kindness…looks like a breakthrough…. It is narrated by a deastating ly funny and heartbreakingly bewildered young woman named Nomi.”—The Bookseller (mcnallyrobinson.com)“This book is as good as anything out there at the moment. But don’t take my word for it, take the word of your fellow citizens: It’s hit numerous Canadian bestseller lists…. [T]his is a well-crafted, witty, sardonic and ultimately sad look inside the world of Mennonites as they exist in East Village, Manitoba.”—Ottawa Citizen“From time to time…we are reminded of what we once saw in this cockamamie enterprise. Along comes book that stands out from the crowd. A Complicated Kindness is just such a book…. Miriam Toews of Winnipeg has delivered a new novel that has us all buzzing…. Ray is a wonderful character….Miriam Toews tells her sometimes harrowing, often very funny story with total confidence. You’ll car about Nomi and Ray and you won’t want it to end. I promise…. It’s a very different book, but A Complicated Kindness might be this year’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.”—University of Toronto Bookstore Review“The narrative voice is so strong, it could carry the last eventful, least weird adolescence in the world and still be as transfixing…. Toew’s novel is a wonderfully acute, moving, warm, sceptical, frustrated portrait of fundamentalist religion…. The book is fascinating, and resonant, and inexorable…”—Saturday’s Guardian (UK)“A Complicated Kindness is a delight from beginning to end.  The humour might be of the blackest sort ('People here just can't wait to die, it seems.  It's the main event.'), but the cumulative effect is liberating and defiantly joyful.”—Daily Mail“In Miriam Toews' agreeably off-kilter novel, A Complicated Kindness, the sanguineous and sanguine are combined in Nomi Nickel.” —TLS"One of my favourite books so far this year is A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. ... (A) sweet, sad, hilarious novel ... The voice Miriam Toews has created for Nomi is utterly unique and absolutely convincing, and her adolescence in 'the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you're a teenager' is at times painfully funny, and at others just painful."—Suzie Doore, Booksellers Choice, The Bookseller"Nomi is a wonderful narrator ... Original and poignant, with exquisite tone."—Juliet Fleming, Booksellers Choice, The Bookseller"Canadian writer's UK debut, the story of a teenage girl growing up in Manitoba in an obscure religious sect, who narrates her story in a lovely voice, fresh and funny."—Star Ratings, The BooksellerAdvance Praise for A Complicated Kindness:"It is a complicated kindness indeed that gives us this book. Miriam Toews has written a novel shot through with aching sadness, the spectre of loss, and unexpected humor. You want to reach inside and save 16-year-old Nomi Nickel, send her the money for a plane ticket to New York, get her a cab to CBGB's on the Bowery and somehow introduce her to Lou Reed. It might seem an odd metaphor to use about someone who has authored such a vivid, anguished indictment of religious fundamentalism, but Miriam Toews writes like an angel."—David Rakoff, author of Fraud"The narrator of this novel, Nomi Nickel, is wonderful. She scrapes away the appearances in her small town and offers what she finds in a voice that is wry, vulnerable, sacrilegious and, best of all, devastatingly funny. This is Miriam Toews at her best."—David Bergen, author of The Case of Lena S.Praise for Miriam Toews:“A Boy of Good Breeding broke unexpectedly through critical armour and caught me at the throat, made me laugh and weep with sad-sweet joy. . . . This novel is tonic for the spirit: a charming, deeply moving, unerringly human story, perfectly shaped and beautifully told.”—The Globe and Mail“The father’s narration she invented, so expressive and powerful in its understatement, comes across as entirely true in the telling. . . . Toews’ novelistic skills (the award-winning comic novels Summer of My Amazing Luck and A Boy of Good Breeding) are richly apparent in her evocative characterizations and in the deft drama of the narrative.”—Toronto Star“Delightfully humorous, subversive and naughtily clever. . . . Brava, Miriam Toews.”—Prairie Fire