So, anybody read Kimmel's other book, A Girl Named Zippy? Cute, sassy memoir about life as an odd-looking child in an Indianan small-town? Well, THE SOLACE OF LEAVING EARLY, Kimmel's second book/first novel, is far better, in my opinion. Though Zippy was fun and well-written, SOLACE is...whew. I need to concentrate for a moment, harness my chi before attempting to review such a gorgeous novel...
Okay. Let's go.
In SOLACE, Kimmel presents some amazingly complex characters, the sort I invariably fall for: Langston Braverman, the quirky grad-school student who walked out on her PhD finals and moved home to itty-bitty Haddington, Indiana. Mentally, she lives in a lofty space of literary theories and absolutes. Langston is quick to lecture her mother (who is marvellous, though Langston does not agree) and, though her conversations are fun to read, I am thankful that I do not know her and so have never had to engage her in any sort of discussion--in real life, I'd probably hate her, but in Kimmel's story, Langston shines.
Also, there is Amos Townsend, struggling small-town minister who has much bigger ideas about faith than he dares present to his congregation; Immaculata & Epiphany, two tiny girls damaged by the brutal death of their mother, who are left in the care of Langston and Amos (the last two, naturally, cannot stand each other).
Kimmel's writing is so dense as to be almost tangible, every character she presents I can picture perfectly. I didn't hear much hoo-ha over this one, after all the bestseller business of Zippy, but THE SOLACE OF LEAVING EARLY is one of the better books I've read recently (and I've read some good ones). And the cover is pretty.