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A dancer turned schoolteacher, Summer is still recovering from the injury that ended her promising career in the arts. Her lover, Nicholas, fears she's depending on him to fulfill her remaining dreams and hopes. And, most ominously of all, her cherished brother, Todd, is slowly dying. In the tranquil suburbs of Ohio, as these difficult days crawl forward, Summer will come A dancer turned schoolteacher, Summer is still recovering from the injury that ended her promising career in the arts. Her lover, Nicholas, fears she's depending on him to fulfill her remaining dreams and hopes. And, most ominously of all, her cherished brother, Todd, is slowly dying. In the tranquil suburbs of Ohio, as these difficult days crawl forward, Summer will come to terms with life, death, relationships, and her father's enigmatic, long-ago injunction to "travel light". She will learn that true love transcends all illness, distrust, and the cruelty of time. But it is in trying to fulfill a promise made to her brother long ago that Summer will meet her greatest challenge -- and realize how truly fortunate she is.


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A dancer turned schoolteacher, Summer is still recovering from the injury that ended her promising career in the arts. Her lover, Nicholas, fears she's depending on him to fulfill her remaining dreams and hopes. And, most ominously of all, her cherished brother, Todd, is slowly dying. In the tranquil suburbs of Ohio, as these difficult days crawl forward, Summer will come A dancer turned schoolteacher, Summer is still recovering from the injury that ended her promising career in the arts. Her lover, Nicholas, fears she's depending on him to fulfill her remaining dreams and hopes. And, most ominously of all, her cherished brother, Todd, is slowly dying. In the tranquil suburbs of Ohio, as these difficult days crawl forward, Summer will come to terms with life, death, relationships, and her father's enigmatic, long-ago injunction to "travel light". She will learn that true love transcends all illness, distrust, and the cruelty of time. But it is in trying to fulfill a promise made to her brother long ago that Summer will meet her greatest challenge -- and realize how truly fortunate she is.

30 review for Traveling Light

  1. 4 out of 5

    Darlene

    This was the first book I read by this author and she is local to my area. She visited my book club meeting and I had dinner beside her. The book is about a gay couple and one is dying of aids. But it is about much more than that.It is about a family, their love and bonds and how it all endured... It is about a celebration of life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Darbi Hebrank

    I rarely read a book that I know will make me cry. But because I've read all of Kittle's other books, I thought I'd give her first one a try. The good news is that I didn't cry until the end. The bad news is that I sobbed. :) But the tears were worth it. I fell in love with the characters (oddly though, the one I felt the least tied to was the narrator...) and the subject matter was intense, but written about in such a way that I was compelled to not put the book down. AIDS is always a tragic su I rarely read a book that I know will make me cry. But because I've read all of Kittle's other books, I thought I'd give her first one a try. The good news is that I didn't cry until the end. The bad news is that I sobbed. :) But the tears were worth it. I fell in love with the characters (oddly though, the one I felt the least tied to was the narrator...) and the subject matter was intense, but written about in such a way that I was compelled to not put the book down. AIDS is always a tragic subject, but even with the sometimes graphic descriptions of the effects the horrid disease can have on humans, it was beautiful to "watch" how Todd's soul and spirit withstood the ravaging monster. I would say the only things I felt were a little off were again, the coldness of the narrator herself...she just wasn't as believable with how she put up so many walls around her with the man she loves, but yet was an open book with her brother and his boyfriend. And the other thing that I think stuck out was the effort to try to make AIDS not associated with gays by revealing the source of Todd's HIV. It just felt too forced, too convenient. I would have been more satisfied if the book had embraced the stereotype, and the honest truth (that nearly half of all AIDs victims obtained the disease from sex with men). Yes, I nkow that means half of the others got it from elsewhere, but in this case, because the characters were gay, it would have been less of an irony that was forced down our throats. That aside, I was wholly impressed. And the way I think about death has changed...though I'm not sure it's for the better. Just different.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Leah Fischer-Toerpe

    This book shoulder have been good -- it had a moving premise, a worthy message, and nice, unadorned prose -- but instead it was condescending, preachy, and flat. I disliked it so much, I actually cancelled the class I'd read it for and took a different one instead. Here's why: The protaganist, Summer, was competely unlikeable. For a book about tolerance, she was incredibly judgemental --- of her boss and co-workers, of her students, of her battered sister, of her dying concentration-camp-survivor This book shoulder have been good -- it had a moving premise, a worthy message, and nice, unadorned prose -- but instead it was condescending, preachy, and flat. I disliked it so much, I actually cancelled the class I'd read it for and took a different one instead. Here's why: The protaganist, Summer, was competely unlikeable. For a book about tolerance, she was incredibly judgemental --- of her boss and co-workers, of her students, of her battered sister, of her dying concentration-camp-survivor grandmother. She KNOWS her sister is being abused, and despises (rather than pities) her for staying with her husband. She shouts and cusses at her frail, sick grandmother, and calls her EVIL for telling Todd about a talkshow claiming to "cure" gays. Her feeble epiphany that this was judgemental too felt like an afterthought, and came only AFTER they changed to her way of thinking. The rest of the characters were flat and unbelievable. I know there are homophobes in the real world, but if the characters had been subtler and acted more like real people instead of cartoon bigots, the book might have actually succeeded in its point. Mostly though, it was just over-the-top. Everyone in their hometown is a religious-but-bible-ignorant gay-basher who will be saved by her correctly quoting scripture at them in a public school; her brother and his husband are MOVIE STARS (yes, literally, and therefore money is no object, because we all know poor people never die of aids); she walks in on them having sex; they GROPE Todd's live-in nursing student 'playfully' (apparently sexual harassment at work is okay for gay men) and speaking of Arnicia... I found the portrayal of her RACIST. Maybe I'm oversensitive, but having a black character who says "you all" at the end of all her lines and only got hired because her panties were showing at a party (yes, actually) disturbs me. (not to mention the bizarre paragraph devoted to admiring her "cocoa" skin --- no one else's skin is described, which apparently means they're white). Most of all, I'm mad because WANTED to like it. I was really excited about that class, and incredibly disappointed to find out the teacher of it had such bad taste as to consider this book worth contemplating further. What a waste of a day.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Maloney

    Such a beautiful heart wrenching story of love and life. Kittle shows that love comes in many forms. It's all beautiful. Read this with an open mind and an open heart. And keep the tissue box handy!!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I just devoured this book and lived intensely with the characters. I still feel they are people I have known and who remain part of my life...how I loved them! Thank you, Katrina Kittle! I needed this story!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I wasn’t sure what to expect from Traveling Light, but I wasn’t expecting how much I’d enjoy it, especially knowing the topic. Summer has returned home to live with her ailing brother Todd and his partner, Jacob. Back in her hometown teaching English, she’s confronted by her past success as a ballerina, ruined by an accident. Todd still has much to teach her about living and loving, and he’s not afraid to use his death to teach her that risking love is worth it. I was worried that I’d be a sobbi I wasn’t sure what to expect from Traveling Light, but I wasn’t expecting how much I’d enjoy it, especially knowing the topic. Summer has returned home to live with her ailing brother Todd and his partner, Jacob. Back in her hometown teaching English, she’s confronted by her past success as a ballerina, ruined by an accident. Todd still has much to teach her about living and loving, and he’s not afraid to use his death to teach her that risking love is worth it. I was worried that I’d be a sobbing mess by the end, but I wasn’t. It was funny, charming, loving, sad, hopeful…so many things that made me keep turning the page. There doesn’t feel like there are any supporting characters, with so many storylines being painstakingly detailed. Definitely a book that I’m going to purchase.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristy Mancuso

    This by far is one of the best books I have ever read. The relationships between Todd & Jake, Todd & Summer, & Jake & Summer are so gutwrenchingly beautiful you don't want to put the book down. As sad as this book should have been I felt so peaceful the whole time I was reading because you can only hope you and everyone you love can live their lives as "light" as Todd. I'm so glad I came across this book for this story will keep with me forever. As for the other comments that people had trouble This by far is one of the best books I have ever read. The relationships between Todd & Jake, Todd & Summer, & Jake & Summer are so gutwrenchingly beautiful you don't want to put the book down. As sad as this book should have been I felt so peaceful the whole time I was reading because you can only hope you and everyone you love can live their lives as "light" as Todd. I'm so glad I came across this book for this story will keep with me forever. As for the other comments that people had trouble reading this because of the gay relationship I feel sorry for them. It is such a beautiful love story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Judy Decaigny

    A wonderful read. I read one of her other books "The Blessing of the Animals" in Book Club and loved it so thought I would try another. This one is just as good with likeable characters who are so very human, capable of doing thoughtful acts as well as sometimes being complete dolts. Real, well-rounded characters. I was sorry to come to the end of the story as I would really like to know what happens to these people who I came to know and like. I will definitely look for another of her books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eileen Carter

    Katrina Kittle, is an author who can touch you at your core. She reaches into the depth of your heart and soul making you feel things that you didn't know were possible. In this heart wrenching story of a Summer, who takes time from her life to help care for her older brother, Todd who is dying. There is so much going on in this book that will keep you turning pages as you grab another tissue to wipe the tears from your eyes. Each of the characters in this book is so well developed that you could Katrina Kittle, is an author who can touch you at your core. She reaches into the depth of your heart and soul making you feel things that you didn't know were possible. In this heart wrenching story of a Summer, who takes time from her life to help care for her older brother, Todd who is dying. There is so much going on in this book that will keep you turning pages as you grab another tissue to wipe the tears from your eyes. Each of the characters in this book is so well developed that you could imagine running into them while you are at Wal-mart shopping, watching your child playing soccer, or even your next door neighbor. Summer, is the type of girl who want perfection, craves it and wants everything to turn out okay. She struggles throughout this book, with her relationship with her significant other, Nicholas; with her sister, Abby; with her students Zack and Denny. But when it is all said and done she is a character who you will want on your side with you to the very end. Todd, he knows he is dying, there is no denying it. AIDS has no cure, but he wants to continue to give to his family as much as he can while he is there. His love for Jacob is unwavering, never-ending and beautiful. Jacob, is Todd's husband, they have been together for 5 years. No matter whatever life throws at them Jacob handles it, sometimes more gracious than others. He is willing to give it all up for Todd, and has proven that by putting his acting career on hold while he cares for Todd in his final days. Nicholas and Summer have been together. He is wanting more, but will his love be enough for the both of them? Nicholas will do whatever it takes to make life easier for Summer, but even the most patient of men have a limit. I found as I read this book that Katrina has written a novel which focuses on getting people to understand that they need to love one another no matter what. Forget all the extra stuff, let it go to the wayside, don't worry about the petty thoughts, acts and words. LOVE ONE ANOTHER! Be there for one another. I am sure that anyone who reads this book, will find it enjoyable. You will certainly need a box of tissues as you read, because some parts are just so full of emotion that you can't even image continuing to read, but yet you know you must. Honestly, 5 stars is really not enough!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    AHHHHHHHH!! This book broke my heart and made me cry over and over again. I originally decided to pick up "Traveling Light" because I am an ex-dancer as well and I've spent a brief amount of time in the teaching arena (ESL in Japan). I took so many great life lessons away from this book. "Travel light so you can sing in the robbers face" aka, live so that you have no regrets and that you cannot be metaphorically robbed. "For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of al AHHHHHHHH!! This book broke my heart and made me cry over and over again. I originally decided to pick up "Traveling Light" because I am an ex-dancer as well and I've spent a brief amount of time in the teaching arena (ESL in Japan). I took so many great life lessons away from this book. "Travel light so you can sing in the robbers face" aka, live so that you have no regrets and that you cannot be metaphorically robbed. "For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but a preparation." That is the essence of this exquisite book. I have now read two books by Katrina Kittle (Traveling Light&Kindness of Strangers) and it's clear that Ms. Kittle has a talent from wrenching her reader's hearts. My god. She also seems to be great at taking very controversial issues (ie. child sexual abuse or homosexuality), applying them to very believable characters and making her reader reconsider what it's like to be close to such a touchy topic. So on that note, if you are against homosexuality or don't take child sexual abuse seriously, I'd challenge you to read one of Kittle's books and retain your beliefs.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Marler

    Perhaps it is unfair to rate a book that I chose not to finish, but this is only the second book in my entire life that I started and chose not to finish, therefor, a little explanation may be warranted. The book is about a family, the sister is the main character, has a live in boyfriend, she lives with her brother & his gay spouse. The brother is dying from Cancer, and is HIV positive. The brother Todd, is the hero of the sister and I enjoyed the story of the family until the author found it ne Perhaps it is unfair to rate a book that I chose not to finish, but this is only the second book in my entire life that I started and chose not to finish, therefor, a little explanation may be warranted. The book is about a family, the sister is the main character, has a live in boyfriend, she lives with her brother & his gay spouse. The brother is dying from Cancer, and is HIV positive. The brother Todd, is the hero of the sister and I enjoyed the story of the family until the author found it necessary to start including a little too much information (physical and otherwise) about the gay relationship. I am not homophobic, I have friends who happen to be gay, some even with children and long term relationships. I don't want to read about their behavior however...I don't appreciate reading about heterosexual physical experiences either...I would rather use my imagination...I mean, what ever happen to..."and they looked into each others eyes...and then it was morning." I am a big girl and I can fill in the gaps.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Debra Parmley

    I first read Traveling Light in 2002 after meeting Katrina at the Antioch Writers Workshop. There are books I have read and forgotten, but this was not one of them. Traveling Light is a five Kleenex book and this was true for me on that first read ten years ago and on the second, even though I knew what was coming next. It was hard to read about the harsh realities of AIDS, of Todd's descent into death. Hard to read about the judgements and the anger characters inflict upon each other. These thin I first read Traveling Light in 2002 after meeting Katrina at the Antioch Writers Workshop. There are books I have read and forgotten, but this was not one of them. Traveling Light is a five Kleenex book and this was true for me on that first read ten years ago and on the second, even though I knew what was coming next. It was hard to read about the harsh realities of AIDS, of Todd's descent into death. Hard to read about the judgements and the anger characters inflict upon each other. These things however harsh they are to read, ring true. They make me long for something different, for the characters in the book and for the world in which we live. There is beauty in the book as well. I love the quotes Todd leaves, not just because I too am a collector of quotes, but because he sends these quotes from all over the world, messages for those he loves, messages to carry on when he is gone. It is for this and for the loving way he treats all those around him that he is my favorite character. His messages carry on with the reader as well, long after the book is closed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Traveling Light is a Five-Hanky book. It is so easy to lose yourself in the story and find yourself a part of Todd & Summer's family. But it is also hard to read the attitudes that made living their lives difficult. The ignorance and hatred displayed towards Todd and Jacob is hard to read. I really hope that if this story were told today the hatred, the ignorance, would not be part of this story. I know that it is a realistic portrayal, but it still makes me sad to read about. http://charlotteswe Traveling Light is a Five-Hanky book. It is so easy to lose yourself in the story and find yourself a part of Todd & Summer's family. But it is also hard to read the attitudes that made living their lives difficult. The ignorance and hatred displayed towards Todd and Jacob is hard to read. I really hope that if this story were told today the hatred, the ignorance, would not be part of this story. I know that it is a realistic portrayal, but it still makes me sad to read about. http://charlotteswebofbooks.blogspot....

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    At first I was concerned the plot would be too depressing, and while the story definitely had its heart breaking moments, on a whole it was a beautiful and even uplifting novel. Also the main plot points didn't sound interesting at first; homosexuality, Aids, death. But in the end this book help open my eyes and it forced me to learn about a lifestyle that I really knew nothing about. My main knock on the novel, is that there are so main characters you are introduced to. I found myself wanting t At first I was concerned the plot would be too depressing, and while the story definitely had its heart breaking moments, on a whole it was a beautiful and even uplifting novel. Also the main plot points didn't sound interesting at first; homosexuality, Aids, death. But in the end this book help open my eyes and it forced me to learn about a lifestyle that I really knew nothing about. My main knock on the novel, is that there are so main characters you are introduced to. I found myself wanting to know more about them.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Nutting

    This was her first book - the second I have read by her. She can take the most sensitive subjects and bring them to light in a moving and compassionate way. The dialogue actually makes you feel you are in the room with the characters. I hope she is as delighted as I am to see the progress made in the 16 years since the book was written. Looking forward to reading more of her novels.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christi Warner

    One of the most excellent books I've read! Her ability to tap into the depths of the human spirit, sibling relations, and being gay.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenee Rager

    Summer Zwolenick is called home to help take care of her dying brother. Living up the road from the farm she grew up on with her brother Todd, his partner Jacob, and the live in nurse, the four of them form a family as they care for Todd in his last months. The novel is a great story about the AIDS epidemic, made even more powerful by Katrina Kittle's refusal to write just to give the reader a happy ending. Every sore, every ache, both physical and emotional are told with unflinching honesty. Th Summer Zwolenick is called home to help take care of her dying brother. Living up the road from the farm she grew up on with her brother Todd, his partner Jacob, and the live in nurse, the four of them form a family as they care for Todd in his last months. The novel is a great story about the AIDS epidemic, made even more powerful by Katrina Kittle's refusal to write just to give the reader a happy ending. Every sore, every ache, both physical and emotional are told with unflinching honesty. There are a few sub stories, Summer's horseback riding and teaching, and even her romance with Paul that don't quite hit the same mark of excellence as the main story does, but as a reader you're grateful for these interruptions because they allow your soul to heal a bit between pages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I have not read anything by this author before but I thought it was beautifully written. Summer thinks everything is going wrong with her life, she had a promising career as a dancer until she suffers an ankle injury, so she has turned to teaching, where she is still finding her feet. Her gay brother Todd is dying, and it is heart wrenching watching him suffer, alongside his partner Jacob. Her lover Nicholas wants her to marry him, but she is not sure, she loves him, but feels she needs to estab I have not read anything by this author before but I thought it was beautifully written. Summer thinks everything is going wrong with her life, she had a promising career as a dancer until she suffers an ankle injury, so she has turned to teaching, where she is still finding her feet. Her gay brother Todd is dying, and it is heart wrenching watching him suffer, alongside his partner Jacob. Her lover Nicholas wants her to marry him, but she is not sure, she loves him, but feels she needs to establish herself first.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn (ktxx22) Walker

    Brb SOBBING. Literally that was me the entire time I read this beautiful book. The representation and the discussions on love, loss, family, and just about everything else you can think about in this book we’re magic. I loved that I was pushed to feel all the emotions. I highly recommend this little known book. 5/5 if you are in need of a good cathartic cry. Look no further I’ve found your reading material.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beki Lantos

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. I was taking the train home from a conference and had already finished my book at the hotel so, my boss at the time, lent me this one to read. I read it from cover to cover on the train. I fell in love with each character so much. It's such a sad and yet somehow uplifting story about love and loss and trying to piece your life together. If you don't mind crying (as I don't), this book is for you. It's amazing!!!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen Roettger

    I enjoyed the way the main character, Summer, dealt with explaining how she & her family members dealt with her brother having AIDS. I especially enjoyed the quotes she put on the board in her classroom each day. Her brother had sent these quotes to her over the years & I thought they helped her to deal with his illness & also make a connection with her students. I enjoyed the way the main character, Summer, dealt with explaining how she & her family members dealt with her brother having AIDS. I especially enjoyed the quotes she put on the board in her classroom each day. Her brother had sent these quotes to her over the years & I thought they helped her to deal with his illness & also make a connection with her students.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ντένη

    Really touching!! The description of Todd's everyday life battling AIDS and how everyone dealt with him being sick felt very real and very raw. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those who are skeptical about homosexuality and believe that love between two people of the same gender is not real love.

  23. 4 out of 5

    LRCA14

    So real.......and well written.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robert Natale

    For those who watch Hallmark movies.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    So much love in this family. It tore at my heart strings. A real tear-jerker.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Wow. Just wow. I laughed, I cried and was inspired by this journey and Todd and Jacob’s relationship. A beautiful book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    For a "first" novel this was a well written and deeply moving story. I was totally enraptured!! I was immersed in this story to the point that I was crying when Todd's life came to an end. The relationship between Summer and her brother Todd is one that many siblings would, I'm sure, wish for. I will definitely be reading more of this new author. From dust jacket: "I woke and wondered if my brother was dead, gone before I could keep my promise... Everything seems to be going wrong in Summer's life, For a "first" novel this was a well written and deeply moving story. I was totally enraptured!! I was immersed in this story to the point that I was crying when Todd's life came to an end. The relationship between Summer and her brother Todd is one that many siblings would, I'm sure, wish for. I will definitely be reading more of this new author. From dust jacket: "I woke and wondered if my brother was dead, gone before I could keep my promise... Everything seems to be going wrong in Summer's life, yet she's a woman who is luckier than she knows. A dancer turned schoolteacher, she is still recovering from the injury that ended her promising career in the arts. Her lover, Nicholas, fears she's depending on him to fulfill her remaining dreams and hopes. And, most ominously of all, her cherished brother, Todd, is slowly dying. In the tranquil suburbs of Ohio, Summer's days will be consumed in long hours of watching and waiting...watching a terrible disease claim Todd's body, and, of course, waiting for the inevitable. As these difficult days crawl forward, she will come to terms with life, death, relationships, and her father's enigmatic, long-ago injunction to "travel light." Through her brother's guidance and example, she will teach her students the lessons that come with life's unsolicited and most intense moments. And watching her brother share both his struggle and his joy with his partner, Jacob, Summer will witness love in its most perfect, truest form...and learn how such a love transcends all illness, distrust, and the cruelty of time. But it will be when she tries to fulfill the promise her brother exacted from her long ago, a promise born of a bond that only siblings can forge, that Summer will meet her greatest challenge-and realize how truly fortunate she is. A tale of passion in an unfamiliar place, TRAVELING LIGHT takes you on a journey from tragedy to acceptance and love. And as it transforms Summer and her family, it will transform you, too."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Summer was an up and coming ballerina in New York City but left it all behind to move back to Ohio to be near her beloved older brother Todd who is in his final months of life. Although only 29 years old Todd knows that he will die soon from Aids and wants only to have his husband Jacob and sister Summer by his side for the time he has left. During a visit to their parents farm Summer is thrown from a horse and suffers a severely broken ankle which puts a final end to her dancing career. Summer Summer was an up and coming ballerina in New York City but left it all behind to move back to Ohio to be near her beloved older brother Todd who is in his final months of life. Although only 29 years old Todd knows that he will die soon from Aids and wants only to have his husband Jacob and sister Summer by his side for the time he has left. During a visit to their parents farm Summer is thrown from a horse and suffers a severely broken ankle which puts a final end to her dancing career. Summer moves into Todd and Jacob's house to help care for her brother while distancing herself from her boyfriend Nicholas and begins a new career as a high school English teacher. Nicholas proposes marriage but Summer's preoccupation with Todd causes her to turn him down and fears that she may have ruined their relationship for good. Jacob and Summer stay by Todd's side throughout his ultimately fatal illness but are touched deeply by their experience and the love that Todd had for both of them. This is a very difficult book to rate as it was at turns funny, gut-wrenching and charming. I liked the characters and the message of "traveling light", meaning to do away with things that don't really matter, was a good one. Todd and Summer's extended family were interesting, especially Grandma Anna who had been in a Nazi concentration camp after she was found to be hiding Jews in her Dutch home. Summer's involvement with two high school students, one a closeted gay and the other a young man with nothing but hatred for anyone different from himself, seemed a bit strange but earnest. I guess my main problem is that the story focused too often on sex and the story was understandably depressing. Kittle is a good writer and this was her first novel. I don't know if she has written any others but I would give them a try if she has.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Arlene

    Summer Zwolenick, the narrator of Kittle's debut novel, is a 26-year-old Ohio schoolteacher who has just enough charismatic mettle and emotional depth to keep the book from falling into the niche of sentimentalized stories in which an angelic young man with AIDS provides meaning and hope to his grieving and equally angelic family. Once a rising ballet star, Summer suffered an injury three years ago and now teaches high school near her suburban Dayton hometown, where she has relocated to be close Summer Zwolenick, the narrator of Kittle's debut novel, is a 26-year-old Ohio schoolteacher who has just enough charismatic mettle and emotional depth to keep the book from falling into the niche of sentimentalized stories in which an angelic young man with AIDS provides meaning and hope to his grieving and equally angelic family. Once a rising ballet star, Summer suffered an injury three years ago and now teaches high school near her suburban Dayton hometown, where she has relocated to be close to her beloved brother Todd, who is slowly dying of AIDS. Her love for her gay sibling is the only thing Summer is sure about, since she resents her mother, is ambivalent about her job and is frightened to take the plunge into marriage with her lover, Nicholas. Todd was a successful soundman in L.A.'s film industry and has come home to die near his parent's horse farm, with his handsome actor boyfriend, Jacob, at his side. Jacob is unfailingly supportive, as is Todd's live-in nurse, Arnicia. These and other characters are sketchily drawn, vehicles only for an assortment of social issues: a sister, Abby, is a battered wife; Arnicia is an African-American who spouts sassy, irreverent wisdom; Grandma Ann spent time in a concentration camp during WWII; Summer has problems at school with a gay youth and a homophobic troublemaker. Still, Summer's character is fully rounded, and part of her indecision about Nick stems from her idealization of the love between Todd and Jacob, who "had something better than I had ever known. And I wanted it more than anything." With Summer's story as the centerpiece, the book is absorbing and readable. In the end, her love for her brother moves the tale beyond cliche. Agent, Liz Trupin-Pulli. 7-city author tour. (Apr.)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judi

    Three years earlier, Summer had a promising career in New York City as a dancer, then in a moment it is over when she falls from a horse and shatters her ankle. Her career as a dancer was due to the sacrifices her older brother, Todd, made for her when they were younger. When one year after the accident, she hadn't stopped pitying herself, it is Todd that jump starts her life again by making her promise that she will show him what else she can do. While she struggles to figure out how to now mak Three years earlier, Summer had a promising career in New York City as a dancer, then in a moment it is over when she falls from a horse and shatters her ankle. Her career as a dancer was due to the sacrifices her older brother, Todd, made for her when they were younger. When one year after the accident, she hadn't stopped pitying herself, it is Todd that jump starts her life again by making her promise that she will show him what else she can do. While she struggles to figure out how to now make her mark, she teaches at her old high school, an easy commute from Dayton, where she has returned to care for this same brother. Todd is dying of AIDS. When Summer initially left for New York City with a horse trailer piled high with her belongings, she thought her father mocked her when he said "Travel light." She may have learned who the robber is, but she is yet to learn what it means to travel light. My first reaction when asked if I'd like to review the book was to pass on it. Essentially, I am not a "caregiver" and don't have much understanding for people who can handle these roles. But, in fairness to the publisher and writer, I read the first chapter on-line. My initial reaction was that the story had potential and at some level it had grabbed me. So I decided to wait another day before declining the offer to review it. As it turned out, FSB did not wait for my reply, they went ahead and sent a copy of the book. Then, I received an e-mail nudge. So again to be fair, I decided I better see if I was going to review it or not. That night I started it. The next day I read nonstop until I reached the end. This book is that good. read the rest my review: http://mostlyfiction.com/contemp/kitt...

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