Katrina Kittle The Kindness of Strangers Reviews

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“The Kindness of Strangers ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 05/12/2005

The Kindness of Strangers
Katrina Kittle
Morrow, Feb 2006, $24.95, 400 pp.
ISBN: 0060564741

When Roy Laden died, the impact on his family was devastating. His widow Sarah struggles with her catering business and raising their two troubled sons. Teenage Nate has been suspended twice skipping school to visit his dad's grave site. Her younger son fifth-grader Danny struggles with the loss too, becoming more reticent.

Sarah visits their neighbors Mark and Courtney Kendrick, but finds by himself eleven year old Jordan who seems very sick. Worried, Sarah rushes Jordan to the nearest hospital where the doctors treat what was a suicide attempt, but also shockingly diagnose that the preadolescent suffers from gonorrhea. The cops obtain a search warrant to look inside the Kendrick home where they find plenty of paedophile evidence against Mark who has vanished; nothing implicates Courtney, a physician treating her son's sexual transmitted illness on the sly, except covert submissive omission as a parent. The three Ladens now have something else that needs healing, though each realizes nothing like what Courtney must require.

Though at times preaching, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS is a powerful family drama that looks at the impact of child sexual abuse on next door neighbors. The Ladens are wonderful characters as they alternate respective of the Before and After, while readers and the trio will feel for Jordan, loathe Mark as a devil, and detest Courtney as a monster for not interceding. The storyline is crisis driven as each Laden struggles with what they knew before in different ways, from the guilt of Sarah to the titillating amazement of Nate, and to the shocked Danny of what happened to his peer by so called loved ones. Katrina Kittle hides nothing with this dark well written but not easy to read tale of abuse.

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