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Nomi Nickel is a 16-year-old narrator who writes about her boring life as a Mennonite teenager in a small Prairie town. To start with, the teens there have very little to do, and according to the religious beliefs of their community everything is forbidden including listening to rock music, reading novels, wearing make up or jewellery, smoking or going out with boys. "The Mouth" is the community's religious leader and Nomi's uncle. Nomi's older sister and mother left town after they were shunned by "the Mouth," leaving Nomi and her depressed father to fend for themselves. The novel is written as an interior monologue. Though the narrator's life is monotonous, Nomi herself is an endearing character. She is able to express how constrained her world is -- a world ruled by fear and by religious fundamentalism.
Miriam Toews won a Governor General's Literary Award in the Fiction category for her brilliant literary interpretation of Nomi's voice. Filled with her heroine's anguish and sadness, but still absurdly funny at times, the story is narrated with great skill and is intended for a mature audience.