I want to say that this book was meh but the more I think about it, the more annoyed I become with Nomi and her pointlessly meandering and maddeningly adolescent story. To be fair, if I never read another coming-of-age story in my life I will die happy. You know, so many books, so little time. Life’s too short to read bad books. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ve read a few other books by Ms Toews, a Canadian writer, most notably her newest, All My Puny Sorrows. That novel was like a balm to the soul. This book seems to be a slapdash stab at Holden Caulfield territory, territory I have already traversed and really never need to see again. Is that a sign of age? Oh well.
Nomi (short for Naomi) Nickel lives in a small Mennonite community with her father. Readers of Ms Toew’s work know this landscape and it has truly served her well. Here the oppression and taciturnity of this sect serve to give something Nomi to rebel against. Like any teenager needs a specific thing to rage against. But it’s there and implacable, like her odious uncle, known as The Mouth, who is the church leader. She is also dealing with issues related to the fact that her sister left town with her boyfriend, never to return or even attempt any contact. Some years after her sister Tish’s departure, her mother leaves under mysterious circumstances. So like any teenager anywhere on the planet, she acts out, drinks, smokes weed and engages in some vandalism. The stream-of-consciousness style of the book serves to trap you inside Nomi’s head and I just didn’t find it a great place to be. I slogged to the end of this thing grimly, counting the pages to when I would finally, blessedly be released.