The Kindness of Strangers: A Novel

Katrina Kittle

William Morrow,  February 2006

On a quiet street in the suburban Midwest, a popular, seemingly stable family keeps a terrible, dark secret behind closed doors -- a secret that will have life-changing consequences for all who know them

Sarah Laden, a young widow and mother of two, struggles to keep her family together. Since the death of her husband, her high-school-age son, Nate, has developed a rebellious streak, constantly falling in and out of trouble. Her kindhearted younger son, Danny, though well behaved, struggles to pass his remedial classes. All the while, Sarah must make ends meet by running a catering business out of her home. But when a shocking and unbelievable revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another young boy into her already tumultuous life.

Jordan, a quiet and reclusive elementary-school boy and classmate of Danny's, has survived a terrible tragedy, leaving him without a family. When Sarah becomes Jordan's foster mother, a relationship develops that will force her to question the things of which she thought she was so sure. Yet Sarah is not the only one changed by this young boy, and as the delicate balance that holds her family together begins to falter, the Ladens will all face truths about themselves and one another -- and discover the power of love to forgive and to heal.

Powerful and poignant, The Kindness of Strangers is a shocking look at how the tragedy of a single family in a small suburban town can affect so many. Katrina Kittle has created a haunting vision of the secret lives of the people we think we know best. Through gripping and heartrending storytelling, The Kindness of Strangers shows that even after the most grave injuries, redemption is always possible.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780060564742 | Publication Date: February 2006

"[The] dark and disturbing subject matter [of The Kindness of Strangers] will raise a few eyebrows . . . [Kittle's] aim, and it's one she achieves quite well, is to show how a deep trauma can be survived on several levels: personal, family and community . . . The book reminded me of Russell Banks's The Sweet Hereafter . . . The story works on several levels, as hospital treatment, media scrutiny, criminal charges, personal conflict and social work all come into play. Kittle burrows deeply into how people react to an abomination in their midst, and makes the case that people have to proactively involve themselves in the well-being of others, even when they are afraid to take on the burden of doing so . . . The story is a brisk, lively, intelligent page-turner that gives the proper payoff and never lets the reader doubt that they're in capable storytelling hands." --Dayton Daily News

"Thanks to the author's exceptionally fluent narrative skill, [this] novel . . . becomes utterly compelling . . . [A] heartbreaking story [that] encompasses fear, fury and loyalty . . . Kittle unfurls her tale with absolute devotion." --Kirkus Reviews

"Kittle crafts a disturbing but compelling story line, as Sarah, Nate, and Jordan uncover and come to terms with the horror in alternating chapters . . . Though the movement is toward healing, there are bumpy roads ahead for everybody in this . . . gripping read." --Publishers Weekly