by Haven Kimmel
Suggested by a fellow blogger who ingeniously proposed an on-line book club, this novel is the first by Kimmel I've ever read
--or even heard of. (Our on-line book club is at the following link, proposed and hosted by Whimsy at the creamery: [Thank you Whimsy!] http://thecreamery.blogspot.com/2009/10/solace-of-leaving-early-book-discussion.html)
Kimmel is good. She puts together characters, plot, atmosphere, and people with such imagination that I am in awe. Her pacing is perfection; we learn aspects of the story and portions of each character's secrets at precisely the right times; her characters are also subject to the slowly unwinding revelations of each other.
Having participated in the book club, I know that some were frustrated by the unwinding of secrets at Kimmel's pace, and at the depth of the background in the beginning of the book, but I found it tantalizing. Who knows these things? Who thinks these thoughts? I only wanted to know the characters more after learning the depths of their minds as the book opens.
The plot centers on Langston, a young woman who has just returned to her hometown, her family, the two daughters of Langston's childhood friend who has died, and the pastor of their church. Every character is intense and fully developed as their lives intertwine. As Langston becomes involved with the children, her life changes, as the opening page indicates. She does not know it at the time, but she is transforming as we slowly learn the secrets which formed her, and she learns the secrets of others.
I am so happy to have found this novel and have taken great pleasure in thinking about and discussing the themes found within. It is a rare book; intelligent, insightful, sparely written and powerful beyond any expectation I've had for a novel. I unreservedly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a good read that also engages the mind and the heart.