Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel

Haven Kimmel is my new favorite author. There, that's said - let's just get that out of the way. I want to read all of her books and my library only has a few of them.

This is the first of her's that I read.

The main female character, Langston, is a grad-school drop-out (like myself!), a bitter, selfish, intellectual snob (like myself!) who has just returned home after a life-breaking affair with a professor. She hates everything about her small town and, if hand sanitizer warded off small-town-itus, she would be one of those carrying around a bottle of it in her purse. She is melodramatic and highly unlikeable, even though I found myself relating to her in some (truly honest) ways (see above).

Langston's mother, who is a salt-of-the-earth kind of woman whom Langston finds unbearable, has become an admirer of a local minister, Amos. Immediately, and more than likely upon principal of the thing, Langston hates him.

The impetus for the story comes when Langston's best friend from childhood dies in a domestic dispute (how small-town redneck, right?) (p.s. - I am a sarcastic person, and sometimes people don't pick up on it; I'm well aware that domestic violence occurs outside of any socio-economic status barrier), leaving two small, young terrorized and traumatized girls, both dressed in matching, ironic costumes, without a viable, long-term home.

Langston and Amos enter into a battle against each other, both believing that they have the girls' best interests at heart. The reader finds herself switching back and forth between sides, at once surprised by Langston's eventual and apparent isolated selflessness when it comes to the girls, and rooting for the best conclusion, though you don't know what exactly that is or how in the world it would happen. Yay for Haven Kimmel! I'm so glad I discovered her. - 5 stars

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