Back home again in Indiana
Fellow Hoosiers, take heart. Once again, Haven Kimmel lifts us from the obscurity of the cornfield in the third and final book of her Indiana-based trilogy, The Used World. Kimmel spins the stories of three small-town women in different stages of life. Rebekah and Claudia are employed by Hazel Hunnicutt in her Used World Emporium, where once-cherished objects wait to be appreciated, purchased and taken home. Like the antiques, and for various reasons, these once-cherished women also wait for reclamation. Kimmel tells her readers, The Used World was, after all, nothing but the past unfolding into an ideal home. With fondness and perception, Kimmel draws on her own autobiography (chronicled in the memoirs A Girl Named Zippy and She Got Up Off the Couch) to depict Jonah, Indiana, where farmers, chubby mommies, drug addicts, diner waitresses, retired Chrysler workers and ghosts, both real and imagined, are part of the tale. Kimmel recognizes us, the inhabitants of east-central Indiana. She dusts us off, using language to lift us from mundane to miraculous, from foolish to philosophical. Layering past with present, Kimmel interweaves each woman's history with her current situation. But what is really a person's story when the details are dependent on perspective? Must we be resigned to life as the sum of our parts? Can we change our perspective our used world and become more? Hazel points out to Claudia, regarding Claudia's recollections of her mother, You're just telling a story called Ludie. You've made up a character who stands in a spot and fulfills certain needs and is rounded by your perfect imagination of her. Read The Used World to enjoy Kimmel's gift for poetic description. Those looking for a can't-put-it-down story will find it here. Belly laughs and thought-provoking situations also abound. With Haven Kimmel, one size fits all. Jodi Hakes-Smith resides in eastern Indiana, where this novel takes place.