Customer Reviews for

Before You Know Kindness

Average Rating 3
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

this deserves 4.5 stars...

Before You Know Kindness is the story of a family thrown into an uproar after tragedy strikes. Twelve year old Charlotte accidentally shoots her father. She thought he was a deer. The result is the permanent loss of his right arm....and a press conference that almost te...
Before You Know Kindness is the story of a family thrown into an uproar after tragedy strikes. Twelve year old Charlotte accidentally shoots her father. She thought he was a deer. The result is the permanent loss of his right arm....and a press conference that almost tears a family apart. The big issue here is that Charlotte's father, Spencer, is head of a staunch animal rights organization called FERAL. FERAL wants to use this family's tragedy to highlight it's stance against guns and hunting, and that's where the family is divided. The problem is, that the infamous gun in this story belongs to the brother of Spencer's wife. You'll have to read the book to learn how and why Spencer's daughter Charlotte came to have that loaded gun in her hands the night she shot her father.

Before You Know Kindness has some really interesting characters. Bohjalian does a great job at character development and making the reader care. Nobody in this novel is perfect. But that just makes the story more realistic.

I was really drawn to the issues in Before You Know Kindness. Vegans vs. meat eaters. Animal rights activist vs. hunters. This is a very candid story covering these very divisive issues. Both sides are covered though, and no matter what your own persuasion, this is a good read. As the synopsis says, "Bohjalian manages to examine some very weighty issues without ever coming off as preachy or pedantic. A triumph."

posted by songcatchers on September 15, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

A lesson in frustration

Reading this book has been one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. Bohjalian seems to be following a series of instructions from a writing seminar: incorporate description into dialogue, maintain interest by alternating between various scenes/characters, fin...
Reading this book has been one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. Bohjalian seems to be following a series of instructions from a writing seminar: incorporate description into dialogue, maintain interest by alternating between various scenes/characters, find "quirky" expressions ("a decade and CHANGE") and scatter them about to create "voice." The problem is that these tools seem too obvious--I'm conscious of him working VERY HARD, and don't seem to work.

I care about what happens to these people just enough to make me soldier on (I, too, read just about everything, and face life with an optimism that even if this moment is less than satisfying, what comes next might be different), but I find the parents incredibly inept and everyone quite whiny and self-indulgent. I fear that I will be disappointed at the end (I'm ~ 2/3 of the way through) either because I have been emotionally manipulated, or because everything is going to tie up in such a nice little bow it could be packaged by Hallmark. Either way, I'm not optimistic.

I also get the feeling that the author thinks I'm too stupid to recognize causality, even after I've been hit over the head with the same analogies or reminded of the same event over and over again. The book might have been decent with a more assertive editor, but I guess we won't ever know. If this is his "best work" so far, I'm certainly not interested in reading anything further.

posted by sherii on October 17, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    Fun read

    This is a very good story which could have been much better written. A good editor could have made it much better. As it is written, it is a fun read which will drive most English teachers crazy.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2007

    Debating whether to finish...

    I'm halfway through this book and I'm stuck. Usually, I'll read anything, and I never drop a book without reading the whole story (I can only think of 1 book I've started and not finished). I feel like this novel is slow and without intensity. I'm not curious about what might happen next, and I'm contemplating moving on. Thoughts?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2006

    Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian, a study in humanity.

    This book centers on a fairly ordinary New England family and how they deal with each other in the aftermath of the accidental shooting of a father by his teenage daughter. A conspiracy of circumstances that could be interrupted by nearly every member of the family ends up placing a loaded deer rifle in the hands of an intoxicated teen. Guilt and recriminations are spread all around but focus mostly on the brother-in-law who procrastinated getting a stuck shell removed from the rifle chamber and to a lesser degree on the daughter who pulled the trigger. The shooting is described in detail in the prologue and without that, I would not have made it past the second chapter. I was asking myself throughout the book what is the point? It is for the most part a story about ordinary people leading ordinary lives something most of us don¿t need to read a book about in order to experience. There are no great revelations, no clash of titans, no great lessons on good vs. evil. This is simply a book about how we treat each other as human beings and how those around us hide their true perceptions of us and accommodate opposing wills in order to avoid conflict. I have been reading lately from many genres outside of Science Fiction where I write (as you will note if you scan my reviews.) It has opened my eyes to the world of readers that is out there and I know now that there are light-years between my audience and that of Chris Bohjalian. As he said at a recent conference, if I can sell a book ¿ anyone can ¿ never give up. After reading this novel, I find myself in complete agreement with him. Still, this book did cause me to ask myself the following. Is it the flashy technology and the huge explosions that make a great Science Fiction story, or the young man discovering that the father he never knew is in truth the master of evil? For me it is both and I must conclude that readers who are looking for some flash and bang will find this book to be only half of what it should be. If you¿re content simply with human drama, give this book a try ¿ otherwise I don¿t recommend it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2005

    Captivating beginning and middle, less intense finish

    I enjoyed the story and thought the beginning and middle of the book were captivating. The family dynamics were very real. Spencer's character models several people in all of our lives - after a tragedy anyone has the propensity to transform their priorities. The relationship between Spencer and his brother-in-law is interesting - while people that have very different belief systems can be close and agree to disagree, the differences must be shared and accepted, not hidden. The novel lost a little of it's intensity in the length and dialogue of the families 'figuring each other out'. When the girls initially started lying about what really happened that night, it seemed serious. I am not sure how but that seriousness lost its gusto and yet the book still relied so much on the discovery of the lie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 3, 2010

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    Posted October 23, 2008

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    Posted June 15, 2011

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    Posted October 25, 2010

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    Posted September 26, 2010

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