The Kindness of Strangers

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Master caterer Sarah Laden is barely holding her life together as a widow with two difficult sons—recalcitrant teen Nate and troubled fifth-grader Danny—when the unthinkable happens. Her best friend and neighbor, Courtney Kendrick, is arrested in a child sex abuse scandal. Courtney's husband has vanished; their 11-year-old son, Jordan, is in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt; and across the street Nate is finding, in Jordan's backpack, evidence of unthinkable abuse. Kittle (Traveling Light; Two Truths and a Lie) crafts a disturbing but compelling story line, as Sarah, Nate and Jordan uncover and come to terms with the horror in alternating chapters. Sarah, for instance, is shocked to learn that she dropped off food for the Kendricks' sex parties; Jordan must decide whether or not he wants to continue a relationship with his mother—who insists she's innocent—if and when she gets acquitted. Kittle's research sits awkwardly in expository dialogue—"One in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their eighteenth birthdays," intones the detective who will later become Sarah's love interest—but it doesn't slow the momentum. Though the movement is toward healing, there are bumpy roads ahead for everybody in this melodramatic but gripping read. (Jan.)
Sarah Laden is a widow with two sons, Nate and Danny, and a thriving catering business. Her best friend, Courtney, helped her through the horrible days after her husband's death and is always there when she's needed. Her son, Jordan, is even Danny's best friend. Then one day all that changes. In a nightmare chain of events, Sarah discovers that she really didn't know Courtney at all and poor, odd Jordan has been living a hell no one could imagine. As Courtney waits in jail, Sarah decides at the request of her older son, Nate, to take on the foster care of Jordan, with all its painful ramifications. Child sexual abuse is hard to read about and Kittle sometimes gets a little heavy-handed with her facts and statistics. But told through the perspectives of Sarah, Nate, Danny, and Jordan, this is ultimately an attractive story of ordinary people trying to make the best of an awful situation and finding the healing power of love and forgiveness in the process. Elizabeth Dickie
  • Paperback: 393 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060564784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060564780
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces

  

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