Reviews: A Complicated Kindness & Through Black Spruce

I’m getting behind on my book reviews so I thought I’d cover two in one blog post.

But, I’d like to point out the comment on my entry for Shelf Monkey – by the author himself! Pretty cool.

It’s funny, because between these two I was more excited about A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. I’d heard of it, read good reviews… but I did not enjoy it. At all. In short, the main character chronicles her current life with her silent father and also looks back into the past regarding why her sister and mother left their small community. I kept reading, hoping the novel would get to the point… and it never did. I never cared about the main characters. I saw struggle, but not enough to be rooting for the characters to overcome it. And, even if I had, it’s not as if it would have mattered. Basically, I saw, I read, I shrugged. In my opinion, the book is forgettable. Sorry!

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Borden, on the other hand… I very much enjoyed. It’s told from the perspective of two characters who are connected but also living very different lives. The uncle discusses fighting on two fronts: his vices and his enemy, and how he tries taking control of his life. The niece, on the other hand, takes time out of her very solitary life to head to Toronto, Montreal and New York to find her sister. It sounds lame, but it was actually a very well thought-out and written novel. It does jump back and forth between present and past but, even for those who generally get confused, the pattern is very evident and easy to follow. I really enjoyed reading about a way of life that I don’t know much about, of those living in very northern areas without easy access to major metropolitan areas.

So, all in all, I enjoyed the book I’d never heard of, and did not enjoy the book I was looking forward to. Go figure.

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