Sixteen-year-old Nomi Nickel longs to hang out with Lou Reed and Marianne Faithfull in New York City’s East Village. Instead she’s trapped in East Village, Manitoba, a small town whose population is Mennonite: “the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you’re a teenager.” East... read more
The novel is told in the style of a memoir and is not fully chronological; therefore there is no classical plot line. The most present-day events detail the involvement of the main character, Nomi, with Travis, whereas she also explores her past and how her family came to be so... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
The novel is told in the style of a memoir and is not fully chronological; therefore there is no classical plot line. The most present-day events detail the involvement of the main character, Nomi, with Travis, whereas she also explores her past and how her family came to be so fragmented.
It is revealed that Nomi's sister, Tash, was excommunicated and left town during her late teens, with her boyfriend, Ian. Tash had become an atheist and her rebellious spirit was not satisfied with the limits of the Mennonite community. Seven weeks later, Trudie, Nomi and Tash's mother, is also excommunicated and leaves town to spare Ray, her husband and the girl's father, the agony of choosing between her and the church. Nomi speculates that Trudie left her with Ray because Ray needs Nomi more than Trudie does. She also speculates that Trudie knew Ray would not be able to choose between her (Trudie) and the church and therefore she left to make it simpler for him.
With Travis, Nomi becomes more rebellious; she spends most of her time trying to get high and eventually begins to take oral contraceptives and loses her virginity. She stops going to school and church. At the end of the novel, Nomi is excommunicated for setting a fire, and Ray leaves town because he realizes that Nomi wouldn't have the heart to leave him, and therefore must leave so that Nomi would be free to do the same. It can also be interpreted as a suicide on the part of Ray.
“The place Trudie traveled to most often was the church basement. The women have to spend a lot of time there. If they don’t they go to hell. (Who’re you gonna serve? Missionaries in Botswana, or Satan? That’s right. Any questions? Didn’t think so.) Their job was to sew clothing and blankets for the missionaries and send it all overseas in barrels. Trudie hated it. She was supposed to do all sorts of stuff at church, cook for weddings and funerals, quilt, teach Sunday school and just generally get her a** in humble helping gear. They were always calling her and asking her if she could spare some time to help out. It wasn’t really a question.”
“I ‘m sure that my mother’s silent raging against the simplisticness of this town and her church could produce avalanches, typhooons and earthquakes all over the world. But there is a kindness here, a complicated kindness. You can see it sometimes in the eyes of people when they look at you and don’t know what to say.”Nomi
“A few weeks ago my uncle came over to borrow my dad’s socket set and when he asked my dad how he was my dad said oh, unexceptional. Living quietly with my disappointments. And how are you?I never know if he’s joking when he says things like that or not.”Nomi
“Main street is as dead as ever. There’s a blinding white light at the water-tower end of it and Jesus standing in tthe centre of it in a pale blue robe with his arms out, palms up, like he’s saying how the hell would I know? I’m just a carpenter.”Momi
“...and the way he always reminded me to signal when I turned. Nomi, he said you just need to wake up to the fact that other people need to know where you’re going. But there’s nobody behind me, I told him. And he said, reassuringly, that someday there may be.”Nomi
“Being seasick at sea is not the same as being homesick at home.”Nomi
“It’s raining questions around here. A person could drown in them.”Nomi
“I would ask Mr. Quiring if he remembers all that but I don’t really want to have conversations about the past with anybody but myself. It prevents discrepancies from creeping in.”
Somehow all the problems of the world manage to get into our town but not the strategies to deal with them.Highlighted by 4 Kindle customers
But I guess if you can die without ever understanding how it happened then you can also live without a complete understanding of how.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
But there is kindness here, a complicated kindness. You can see it sometimes in the eyes of people when they look at you and don’t know what to say.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
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