A Complicated Kindness: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Miriam Toews
This Study Guide consists of approximately 46 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Complicated Kindness.
This section contains 439 words
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A Complicated Kindness: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

A Complicated Kindness: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on A Complicated Kindness: A Novel by Miriam Toews.

The novel, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, tells the disturbing story of a teenage girl whose family as well as her own life has been torn apart by an overly powerful religion. Nomi struggles through her own crisis of faith as she tries to deal with the disappearance of both her mother and older sister. Eventually Nomi's rebellious behavior causes her to be excommunicated from her church. It is Nomi's father who loves her enough to give her the freedom she needs to leave the town and the religion that she finds so suffocating.

Nomi Nickel is thirteen years old when first her older sister, and then her mother leave her alone with her loving but distant father. Nomi describes herself as being a "pious little Menno kid" who worries about her rebellious older sister's salvation. Three years later, at the time the novel is written, Nomi is a rebellious teenager who is fighting with her own doubts and questions about the beliefs and regulations of her religion. She also struggles to put a context around the departure of her mother and sister as she searches for clues to determine what went wrong. Although Nomi may not have been the Mennonite the leader of the clan would have wanted her to be, Nomi does credit this man with giving her faith to hope that one day her family will be reunited and happy again.

Nomi believes the only thing the future holds for her is a job in the chicken-slaughtering house that is one of the major industries of their town. She struggles with her senior year of high school and falls behind on schoolwork, as she gets deeper into drug use and a boyfriend, Travis, who has quit school to work for his father. It bothers her that she is unable to please Mr. Quiring, a teacher who believes her sister is gifted, by providing a story with a satisfactory ending. Near the end of the novel, Nomi indicates that she has written this story for Mr. Quiring, who she has learned had an affair with her mother then threatened her mother with punishment from the church if she tried to tell anyone what he had done.

At the conclusion of the novel, Nomi is excommunicated from the church because of her lack of attendance as well as the act of setting Travis' truck on fire. After her excommunication, Nomi's father leaves town, leaving her the family car and ownership of the house. Although this action may seem cruel, it gives Nomi the freedom to leave town also and control her own future.

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This section contains 439 words
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