Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"The Kindness of Strangers" - Book Review

A young widow raising two boys, Sarah Laden is struggling to keep her family together. But when a shocking revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another troubled young boy into her already tumultuous life.

Jordan, a quiet, reclusive elementary school classmate of Sarah's son Danny, has survived a terrible ordeal. By agreeing to become Jordan's foster mother, Sarah will be forced to question the things she has long believed. And as the delicate threads that bind their family begin to unravel, all the Ladens will have to face difficult truths about themselves and one another--and discover the power of love necessary to forgive and to heal.

My Review:

Every year I try to read books that make me grow by teaching me, enlightening me, and opening my eyes to things I have never thought about before. That includes reading books that make me uncomfortable. I try to read one book a year that makes me uncomfortable because if we don't step out of our comfort zones how can we ever grow? The Kindness of Strangers makes all of the uncomfortable books I have ever read seem like child's play compared to it.
Right off the bat you need to know that The Kindness of Strangers deals with really heavy subject-material including sexual abuse, incest, and child pornography.  The synopsis of the book doesn't hint about what the 'big secret' Sarah discovers is and I had no idea what I was in for when I began to read the book. I had been under the impression that this book may have dealt with abuse and drug use but that wasn't what I discovered.
There were times when reading this book that I felt sick and disturbed by the content and had to put the book down. In the beginning it was hard for me to pick the book up again but I felt like I owed it to poor Jordan to read his story. It sounds weird; owing a fictional character something, but Katrina Kittle has an amazing gift for storytelling and her characterization was impeccable. Jordan felt as real to me as a friend. The book was told in third-person perspective of three of the characters; Sarah, Jordan, and Nate. She did a fantastic job voicing each of the characters you never would have known that they were all written by one person. 
This book brought tears to my eyes numerous times and broke my heart. Though this book deals with really bad things it's a really good book written with compassion and poise. 
If I would have known that The Kindness of Strangers was about sexual abuse, child pornography, and incest I probably would not have picked it up off of the shelf and given it a second thought. But I am glad I did. Kittle brought to light that there are so many false stereotypes regarding sexual abuse and pedophiles that most of us have it entirely all wrong. We usually think of a 40-something year old white male with a creepy mustache when we think of pedophiles, but they can be 'normal' people too and often are. I never would have imagined that there are parents that sexually assault their children, but tragically that is the case for some children all across the globe. But it isn't an issue we should turn a blind eye toward just because it's hard subject-material. Silence is the heaviest form of oppression for children that are sexually abused and we as adults should look out for children and be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.
This book will teach you that tragedy can tear one family apart and pull another together. 


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