For ten summers,
the Seton familyall three generationsmet at their country home in New
England to spend a week together playing tennis, badminton, and golf, and
savoring gin and tonics on the wraparound porch to celebrate the end of the
season. In the eleventh summer, everything changed. A hunting rifle with a
single cartridge left in the chamber wound up in exactly the wrong hands at
exactly the wrong time, and led to a nightmarish accident that put to the test
the values that unite the familyand the convictions that just may pull it
Before You Know Kindness is a family saga that is timely in its
examination of some of the most important issues of our era, and timeless in its
exploration of the strange and unexpected places where we find love.
As he did with his earlier masterpiece, Midwives, Chris Bohjalian has
written a novel that is rich with unforgettable charactersand absolutely
riveting in its page-turning intensity.
The New York Times Book Review
Few writers can manipulate a plot with Bohjalian’s grace and
San Francisco Chronicle
A modern, compelling drama...Bohjalian beautifully captures those
dizzying moments that follow a tragedy, when disbelief and horror give way to an
attempt to understand what has happened...For
the characters Bohjalian has so tenderly created, kindness offers solace and an
opportunity to move forward. In this novel, our eyes are opened to the
possibility of redemption, even in these careless times.
Bohjalian has built a rich and complex family drama around
a knotty, unanswerable set of questions.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Bohjalian has had much success in the past, including a selection as an
Oprah Book Club author. Before You Know Kindness is better than anything he's
The Burlington Free Press - David Huddle
Before you finish reading Before You Know Kindness, its most important
character, 10-year-old Willow Seton, will become a member of your family. This
decent kid struggles with an almost impossible dilemma, and Chris Bohjalian's
new book is one of those deliciously compelling novels whose characters enter
your consciousness like blood kin. In spite of how harrowing it is to read, you
don't want it to end.
More like Midwives and Trans-Sister Radio than the
recent, more intimate The Buffalo Soldier, this patented blend of social
commentary and soul-searching moral drama for the public radio crowd should do
well for Bohjalian.
Bohjalian's character depictions are strong and complex, and readers
will find themselves caring about the Seton clan . . . Before You Know Kindness
is an engrossing story that entertains while making you think.
The finely drawn scenes and characters here will suck in
all but the hardest-hearted. Pretty much irresistible.
Booklist - Kristine Huntley
Starred review. Bohjalian's elegant,
refined writing makes even the most ordinary details of family life fascinating,
and his characters leap off the pages as very real, flawed, but completely
sympathetic human beings. Bohjalian manages to examine some very weighty issues
without ever coming off as preachy or pedantic. A triumph.
Richard Russo, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Chris Bohjalian's many fans will be glad to know he's back on the high
wire, expertly balancing topical issues with the more timeless concerns of the
human heart. His well- drawn, sympathetic characters deepen and intensify the
novel's gripping plot rather than simply serving it. Before You Know Kindness is
smart, first-rate storytelling.
Julia Glass, Winner of the National Book Award
Once again, Chris Bohjalian dares to tackle the complexities — and
complacencies — of modern society at its most vulnerable spot, where the
personal clashes with the political, where the private is forced to go public.
And once again, he forges a drama that will keep his readers on the edge of
their seats . . . perhaps their conscience as well.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
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