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The Kindest Lie


A timely and soul-stirring novel about the lies families tell each other and the...
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Overall, what do you think?

Created: 01/27/22

Replies: 24

Posted Jan. 27, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barrye

Join Date: 07/20/14

Posts: 53

Overall, what do you think of The Kindest Lie? (no spoilers in this thread, please)

Overall, what do you think of The Kindest Lie? (no spoilers in this thread, please)


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sweeney

Join Date: 05/24/11

Posts: 203

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I found it very interesting to read the story told by an African American author through the voice of an African American protagonist. I must admit, I had difficulties understanding the reluctance of Ruth to tell her husband about her earlier pregnancy.


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
amya

Join Date: 02/13/20

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I was disappointed in the book and would rate it 3 stars.

The book dealt with so many (maybe too many) culturally relevant issues: race, prejudice, strength of family, abandonment, poverty...but I didn't feel these topics were fully developed and the plot was contrived.

It is told from the viewpoint of Ruth, black, Ivy League educated; and Midnight, a poor white child. The story from Midnight's view was more understandable to me as he after all, is the child and has child-like views of the world around him. Ruth, the supposed adult always seemed naive, shallow, and lacking in depth.

For example, as the book begins it appears her and her husband Xavier have a great relationship. But whoops, she forgot to reveal she had had a baby in high school. Then she returns to her hometown and her and her husband don't communicate for weeks? Also, what happened to her job that she just disappeared from for weeks?

I struggled to finish the book, hoping it would hook me in at some point, but it really did not.


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ilenem

Join Date: 04/17/19

Posts: 35

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I was disappointed in the story. I felt that Ruth's ability to find her son was unrealistic. I also felt that Xavier's response to the information that Ruth presented to him was not totally realistic.
Some of the issues brought up by the author were ones that need to be addressed. I just do not feel that the book lived up to what could have been.


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 265

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

It was an okay book with an interesting premise but there were too many unbelievable twists to make it a very good story.


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carriem

Join Date: 10/19/20

Posts: 264

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I found the book to be thought provoking and the multiple viewpoints and interactions and discussion between the characters Ruth and Midnight added depth to the story plus provided more background to time in U.S. history. I do understand why she had not told Xavier her secret because she had not fully processed or accepted it but it is puzzling.


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sylviaann

Join Date: 01/14/18

Posts: 83

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

The Kindest Lie is told with such an assured voice and graceful conviction. I thoroughly enjoyed and HIGHLY recommend this book.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 413

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

Amya best represents my feelings. Xavier was an almost extraneous character here, and Ruth's simply returning to her hometown for an extended period of time might work in a pandemic, but not in 2008. Midnight is perhaps a more realistic character, but his ability and willingness to move across racial communities challenges credibility as well. I feel like the author is trying to make too many points in dealing with the wide variety of racial and cultural issues she presents, resulting in a book that is scattered and unfocused.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 564

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I enjoyed the book and am glad I had the opportunity to read it. Many issues in American society are incorporated- poverty, the dying of small towns where factories close, LGBTQ issues (Tess and Penelope), double standards for behavior in males /females, and of course, race.
The author did a good job of touching upon evidence of racism that many readers who are not Black might not think of: a first name that could indicate race and prevent someone from being granted an interview and the "conventionally good hair." Also, the election night party comment from Ruth was/is so true: Obama's fist bump with wife Michelle was "cool to some and subversive to others" (page2). Ruth's hesitancy and fear about revealing her past to her husband Xavier is understandable; there still is a double standard about male behavior v. female. For every female who has an unwanted pregnancy, there is a male who- most of the time- walks away without any effect to his live. Plus, Ruth's husband's reaction proved her fears correct. I thought Xavier was acting like a jerk (using a G-rated word) since even he admitted he had intimate relations with other girls before he met Ruth and he hadn't always worn protection. I wish Ruth would have called him on the hypocrisy of his double standard and asked him if he would be one of the men who would be stoning a woman in another country today.
When Chapter 5 switched to Midnight's story, I found myself going back to reread paragraphs and see if I'd missed a clue as to Midnight's significance to the previous chapters.I wonder if the novel would have seemed stronger if it had been told in a linear fashion with Midnight being introduced to the story when Ruth arrives in town.
I think this book has value in presenting a view of part of society in the United States with which some readers do not -and may not ever-interact.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jos

Join Date: 03/14/21

Posts: 161

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I enjoyed the writers thought provoking theme on race, poverty, relationships,double standards and mental health and addiction. I thought some parts where emotional especially the way she pointed out nuances of racism but felt others like the double standards with men and women as well as mental health issues could have been teased out more. Overall a 3 star book for me I liked it and it’s a good debut but could be richer and more in depth with the characters. It was like a first layer of a Jesmyn Ward 4 layer novel, it was gritty, engaging, historically accurate but emotionally it lacked depth.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gaylel

Join Date: 01/05/22

Posts: 6

RE: Overall, what do you think of The ...

I did not finish this book, stopping after 85 pages. I struggled with the book almost from the beginning, irritated with the characters’ choice of actions which I often found unrealistic or inappropriate in light of the circumstances. For example, Ruth’s shame as an adult about giving up her newborn son for adoption when she was just a teenager with few resources and little support didn’t seem realistic to me. Nor was her husband’s profound anger with her for not telling him about this. Although the author raises a number of social/political issues, from what I read of the novel, it felt like she was checking off items on a list of topics to be raised in her novel.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JuliaB

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 17

RE: Overall, what do you think?

This is a timely novel about motherhood and race. I appreciate how it explores how Ruth is pulled apart by all the expectations on her: the dutiful academic daughter, the wife and mother. I can see that some readers find it difficult to understand how she could have kept her teen pregnancy from her husband; but who among us has not kept a secret in the moment, only to realize later that we are stuck with the consequences that are so much worse than having been truthful? It was not the right thing to do, but it was a very human thing.


Posted Jan. 31, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 466

RE: Overall, what do you think?

What I appreciated about this book was seeing all the obstacles, stereotypes, and "everyday moments" of life through the eyes of a black woman and her family. (Everyday moments that are often unnecessarily complicated for no other reason than the color of Ruth's skin.) While Ruth comes to terms with a long buried, traumatic event, she must also deal with day to day trauma due to the color of her skin. I could actually visualize the balancing act people of color experience daily in almost every interaction.


Posted Feb. 02, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
KAM9232006

Join Date: 12/03/11

Posts: 8

RE: Overall, what do you think?

I really enjoyed reading this book, I liked how the author told the story from Ruth and Midnight’s point of view. One of my favorite parts about reading is getting to see into the lives of people different than myself, sometimes you learn something about the world and sometimes you learn something about yourself.


Posted Feb. 04, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
windellh

Join Date: 11/05/17

Posts: 72

RE: Overall, what do you think?

I thought the book was okay but it tried to address to many cultural/social issues that were really never developed. The story was not believable because I found it unrealistic and shallow.


Posted Feb. 06, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Bibliophile

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 5

RE: Overall, what do you think?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! In a consistently racially divided America, I feel it is so important to read Black authors depicting Black America so that we can develop empathy and understanding of life experiences that white Americans will never know. It is my hope that books like these will help bridge the ever-widening racial divide in this country.
I found it interesting that some readers felt parts were unrealistic, such as keeping family secrets (often secrets are simply passed down generation to generation without ever knowing why they were kept in the first place) and Ruth's hiatus from work (accrued vacation time, request for personal leave, numerous reasons why it could occur).
As well as some readers felt the cultural/social issues were just a checklist and not fully developed. I felt that the issues portrayed 1) didn't overwhelm the novel, but added nuance to the plot and 2) accurately portrayed the daily struggle and daily worries in Black America, where as white Americans only think about these issues when they hit the nightly news.


Posted Feb. 06, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbg

Join Date: 01/29/22

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think?

Overall, I enjoyed The Kindest Lie. I found the first third of the book drug enough that I kept losing track of the who the characters in her home town represented. I am glad that I did continue reading as I did not expect the ending. There were many twists and turns in the story representing too many society issues for one short book. A few less issues with a more in-depth story line would have kept me more involved.


Posted Feb. 07, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckys

Join Date: 08/12/16

Posts: 259

RE: Overall, what do you think?

I enjoyed the read as it made me think of things from a different perspective. I did find some of the plot twists a little unbelievable. The fact that Midnight and Corey were good friends was a little too convenient. I also found it hard to believe that Ruth had not shared the fact that she had had a child previously, with her husband. It also seemed strange that Ruths mother and brother knew everything about Corey and sort of watched over him, but Ruth hadn't expressed an interest in finding out who he was until her husband was pushing her to have a baby. I would rate it a 3.5 overall.


Posted Feb. 08, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
skagitgrits's Gravatar
skagitgrits

Join Date: 02/24/17

Posts: 64

RE: Overall, what do you think?

I liked the story and felt it gave me a window into a different perspective. It hits a lot of social and cultural issues relevant to the current times. Ruth's story is interesting when viewed through the lens of poverty and racial experiences. It also delves into the dilemma of transitioning with confidence into a "different" world with new and difficult expectations.
Overall, I enjoyed the story and felt the author did a good job of touching on so many areas.


Posted Feb. 13, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Dax

Join Date: 07/17/11

Posts: 8

RE: Overall, what do you think?

I’m really torn…I wanted to like this story… but ultimately I didn’t. I felt that there were too many disjointed arcs, too much left unresolved and that the finale, instead of feeling cohesive and satisfying, seemed a bit rushed. IMHO I think that a tighter storyline and more character development were needed.


Posted Feb. 14, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
robinb

Join Date: 08/06/18

Posts: 7

RE: Overall, what do you think?

Over all I enjoyed the book. It applied to the events of today in a way that was subtle yet powerful. The characters were well developed and had depth and I could relate to some of them on a personal level. I look forward to this author's next book.


Posted Feb. 14, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
xandrabk

Join Date: 04/16/19

Posts: 44

RE: Overall, what do you think?

Overall, the book was a slow read for me. I had to literally make myself continue to read because I was interested in the storyline; the writing itself was too detailed. A lot could have been left out. It was a great topic but the story wasn't developed to keep the reader interested.


Posted Feb. 24, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tarablythe

Join Date: 01/14/21

Posts: 8

RE: Overall, what do you think?

I didn't love it but didn't hate it. I felt like the author tried to cram too much into the book. The potential was definitely there, but the execution didn't work for me personally.


Posted Feb. 24, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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taking.mytime

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 424

RE: Overall, what do you think?

I enjoyed it, but believe that Johnson could have pushed the thread a bit more. She touched on a lot of issues, but did not concentrate tightly on any one. Her writing was just kind of 'vanilla; for lack of a better word.


Posted Mar. 03, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 537

RE: Overall, what do you think?

There were so many issues packed into this book. Perhaps fewer issues with more depth would have been better? I will admit the book gave me mush to think about and did open my eyes to issues I haven't had to face in my life. I'd give it three stars out of five.


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