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THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS by Katrina Kittle

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

By Katrina Kittle

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 2006
ISBN: 0-06-056474-1
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

A struggling family responds to the discovery of child sexual abuse very close to home.

A middle-class household in small-town USA is transformed into a hellhole as Kittle (Two Truths and a Lie, 2001, etc.) depicts a child in peril. Thanks to the author’s exceptionally fluent narrative skill, a novel which at times has the flavor of a public information account of abuse and its aftermath becomes utterly compelling. Jordan is the nerdy, withdrawn, 11-year-old son of glamorous, respected Mark and Courtney Kendrick. One morning, Courtney’s best friend Sarah Laden discovers Jordan ill and alone and rushes him to the hospital. Jordan, whose sickness is a suicide-attempt overdose, is discovered to have been not only abused for years but also infected with gonorrhea, for which Courtney, a doctor, has been treating him with stolen drugs. A search of Jordan’s home uncovers masses of evidence incriminating Mark but nothing directly implicating Courtney, whom recently widowed Sarah now struggles to recast as a monster. Jordan’s own heartbreaking story encompasses fear, fury and loyalty; a sympathetic police officer, doubling as Sarah’s love interest, offers useful background information.

There are no surprises and a little too much sweet resolution, but Kittle unfurls her tale with absolute devotion.