by Bill Lehto
The author, Susan K. Perry, is a social psychologist who has written six nonfiction books including Writing in Flow: Keys to Enhanced Creativity. She has also contributed to a variety of university textbooks and has written over 1000 articles, essays, reviews, and advice columns for publications such as Psychology Today, Los Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and Woman's World, and she has been quoted widely in national media.
Most recently, she has focused on the psychological and creative aspects of rationality, freethought, atheism, and humanism.
Kylie’s Heel is narrated by Kylie Moran, a writer who dispenses humanist advice to readers in her local newspaper advice column, A Rational Woman. The tension in the novel begins when Kylie’s twin sister Phoebe, a born again Christian, invites Kylie’s son to come along with her on a summer mission to Africa. And after a shock throws Kylie’s world into chaos, the question becomes whether or not Kylie’s rationality is enough to keep her going in a world she has little control over.
Kylie’s Heel is a wonderful and captivating novel that explores how a non-believer copes with tragedy without a god, church, or religion to fall back on. A page-turner with slowly building tension, it also explores both the joys and difficulties of living life as a rational human being. Perry’s fiction has a certain honesty to it that breaks down the barrier between reader and narrator that sometimes gets in the way of getting immersed in a fictional story. I felt as if I was living the narrator’s experience, which, for me, is rare (one reason I read mostly nonfiction). At turns darkly funny, startlingly sensual, and haunting, Kylie’s Heel has a style that completely absorbs the reader. It’s deeply emotional and full of psychological insights, while never being flowery or melodramatic.
After finishing it, I immediately wished there were other people that I could discuss the book with. Kylie’s Heel would make for great book group discussions, particularly for secularly-oriented book groups.
Bill Lehto is the publisher at Freethought House and editor of Atheist Voices of Minnesota.