Read Iodine by Haven Kimmel Online


Haven Kimmel, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, has long attracted legions of fans for her insightful, humane portraits of outsiders struggling to find their place in the world. In Iodine, her fourth novel, Kimmel once again draws on her exceptional powers of observation and empathy, but this time she makes an exhilarating foray into psychological gothic territoryHaven Kimmel, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, has long attracted legions of fans for her insightful, humane portraits of outsiders struggling to find their place in the world. In Iodine, her fourth novel, Kimmel once again draws on her exceptional powers of observation and empathy, but this time she makes an exhilarating foray into psychological gothic territory with the electrifying story of a young woman emerging from layers of delusion, fantasy, and lies. With her astounding intelligence, fierce independence, and otherworldly lavender eyes, college senior Trace Pennington makes an indelible impression even as questions about her past and her true identity hover over every page. From her earliest years, Trace turned away from her abusive mother toward her loving father. Within the twisty logic of abuse, her desperate love for him took on a romantic cast that persists to this day, though she's had no contact with her family since she ran away from home years ago. Alone but for her beloved dog, she's eked out an impoverished but functional existence, living in an abandoned house, putting herself through college, and astonishing her teachers with her genius and erudition. What they don't know is that she leads a double life: thanks to forged documents, at school she is Ianthe Covington, a young woman with no past.Trace's singular life is upended when she and her literature professor fall in love. She tells him nothing about her life, and as it becomes apparent that he has his own dark secrets, she's forced to face herself and her past. After recovering a horrific, long-suppressed memory, Trace finally copes with the fallout from her brutal, bizarre childhood. Kimmel parcels out Trace's strange, dark story in mesmerizing bits that obscure as much as they reveal, and keep the reader guessing until the end.With Kimmel's radiant imagination, lyrical prose, and vision of a bleak and fertile Midwest on full display, Iodine is a frightening and marvelous tale of life at the outer extremes of human experience. This unique portrait of the psychological effects of trauma is tantalizing, shocking, and ultimately hopeful....

Title : Iodine
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781416572848
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 240 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Iodine Reviews

  • Alexis
    2019-05-04 18:21

    A real departure for Kimmel and for my money, a triumphant return. But for Orville and Solace of Leaving Early the other works of hers I have read have not drawn me in enough for me to even finish them.But Iodine, Iodine! It is gorgeous and intense and heavy and complex and worthwhile. I feel I need to go back to school for many years to cover all that I know I missed in her discussion of archetypes- just to figure out if Ianthe's poem is any good.But there is so much to consider. It lacks a certain tenderness, a depiction of grace in the world but this text is harsher, colder than Solace. Not in a bad way, it is just different. And beautiful. I hope Kimmel gets the recognition she deserves for this novel. I also hope that despite my ignorance about archetypes and ancient Greek and methamphetamines that others with clout will appreciate this novel. I would hate for it to go unnoticed. Kimmel was cutting into something deep here and the structure, the pacing- all of it, is risky for her but I argue, well, well worth it.I think that perhaps we will have to see what Ms. Waters has to say on the subject. She expects she might have time to read it in July.

  • Anna
    2019-05-22 12:34

    Trace Pennington is a senior at the top of her class at the University of the Midwest, a double major in English and classics with an intimidating quadruple minor in psychology, humanities, philosophy, and (after one more class) women’s studies. But when she came to school, she turned down the room-and-board part of her scholarship, preferring to do her studying in the run-down, unheated farmhouse where she lives with her father’s dog and two hundred unlabeled file folders. No one, not even her lifelong best friend, knows her address. She’s not even enrolled under her real name. What Trace is hiding from, however, she is also trapped with: herself, mental illness, memory, reality.Kimmel’s prose, both in her memoirs (“A Girl Named Zippy”) and previous novels (“The Solace of Leaving Early”), has always been lovely; here, it reaches a chilling beauty. She handles two concurrent narratives: Trace’s revelatory jottings in a dream journal for one of her classes (the invitation-only seminar Special Topics in Archetypical Psychology) and her third-person movements through several different worlds: the rural bleakness of her childhood, the posing personae of college kids, the jargon-laced farce of academia, and always, the dark, bristling territory of dreams. The characterization is usually painful and often funny—a cover blurb compares Kimmel to Flannery O’Connor, and they do share the ability to portray people who at once hopelessly cliched and completely individual. Many of the cast of “Iodine” have, in fact, consciously turned themselves into stereotypes, both funny and heartbreaking: the overwrought transsexual, the obese, paranormal-obsessed trailer-wife, the rumpled, past-his-prime professor exiled to a third-rate university. Archetypes, after all, are just caricatures on a sublime scale. And archetypes are where this novel dwells, within the Jungian corridors of the collective unconscious, where Trace’s hallucinations (the coyote walking upright who, when she was six, put a pebble in the back of her neck and led her over the hillside to where her best friend was waiting) are every bit as real as her abusive mother and her too-beloved father. While bits and pieces of Trace’s past are revealed, as the line between author and narrator all but disappears, it’s impossible—and pointless—to tell what really happened.Why iodine? It’s referenced only twice, once within a delusion, but as the title it’s at the back of the reader’s mind throughout: it represents, I think, the attempt to heal, imposed from without—helpful but superficial, leaving behind a stain.

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-11 13:10

    Sorry folks, I just cannot say anything nice about this book. Sad, since I've very much enjoyed every other Haven Kimmel book I've read. I knew I didn't like this book after about 70 pages, but I continued on for another 70 or so pages after that, hoping this author wouldn't disappoint me and things would come together. The book just got worse and worse. IF you are a psych major and like reading boring blather about Freud and Jung interspersed with a terrible so-called story about a psychopathic mentally ill college student with friends who believe they were abducted by aliens...then have at it. Otherwise, don't waste your time. It breaks my heart to have to write a review like this, but I feel like I should warn other fans of this author that this book has none of the qualities you've come to know and love in her other novels.

  • Glenda Bixler
    2019-05-19 18:36

    Iodine by Haven Kimmel was a very disturbing book for me. I could not say I liked it, but I feel compelled to give it high praise for what Kimmel has created in this portrayal of her character, Trace Pennington. If you dare--enter her psychotic mind:I never I never had sex with my father but I would have, if he had agreed.The majority of Iodine comes to us in the form of journals. The excerpt above is how Kimmel opens her novel. Certainly attention getting—certainly a setup of what may be coming. Whether or not any of the interactions between Trace and her family members ever really happened, we cannot be sure of¾what we do know for sure is that Trace Pennington believed everything that she wrote—at the time she wrote it. The false starts, again as demonstrated above, are also accompanied by failure to finish thoughts, beginning new thoughts in the middle of others, and various sidetracks of her ongoing thoughts.Trace has a form of epilepsy that is not discovered, or even considered, until late in her life. Once she is medicated, she begins to realize and investigate what has been happening to her.Where does a brilliant woman escape to when she is delusional or hallucinating?Even earlier, and perhaps more critical—where does she go to escape abuse from her own mother, who described her as a changeling?Readers enter Trace’s life during her time at university. She has created a persona, Ianthe Covington, who is now considering various Honors courses that will not only complete her degree but also provide her various minors in fields such as Women’s Studies. It is quite obvious that she has read far beyond all requirements and, in fact, has exceeded the experience of some of her professors. Indeed, readers quickly become aware of the brilliance of the author, even though it is bizarrely portrayed through her central character.While Ianthe is steadily moving toward her degree, Trace has left home and lives in an abandoned house with little money. It is there where she writes of visiting the Underworld, to meet with Pluto or Hekate. Or she might share her dreams and then her own interpretation of those dreams—or what interpretation Freud or Jung might provide.Trace’s mind seems to never stop and readers are thrown page by page into Greek mythology to Jung to Freud and back to Jung. Fortunately, Trace has Weeds as her totem, to provide stabilization to her life--her beloved dog, given to her by her beloved father...until...One day, Ianthe sees and meets her “fate.” He is one of her professors, Jacob Matthias. And, so, she discovers where he lives, goes there and waits on an outside porch until he comes tell him so. Surprisingly, she just might be right this time! Indeed, she doesn’t know how fateful he has been until, perhaps, the day she hears a doctor ask him how long they had been married. In her mind, she tried to say, four months. But she hears, surprised, when he responds “Four years and four months to the day.”Once I made it through some of her journal entries, I had become absorbed into Trace’s life. It is then fascinating to sit back and watch her internal thoughts within the academic community, and her overwhelming brilliance as she explores Hades or her dreams and/or hallucinations of her parents. There is a realism that is beyond comprehension for many of us, yet the author has indeed placed us directly into the mind of this woman! It is truly amazing. It is disturbing. It is horrible. It is wondrous...But no matter what, for me, Haven Kimmel’s Iodine is one of the most memorable books I have ever read and it will continue to haunt me! Outstanding writing! G. A. BixlerIndependent Professional Book Reviewer

  • Marian
    2019-04-26 12:34

    This book was weird as hell. I don't even know if I can post a review because I'm not sure I even "got" it. It's a psychological tale with an unreliable narrator (I think). If you took philosophy, psychology, or, say, have a divinity degree, you might fare better than I. I found the hyper-specific details (such as Kate Bush lyrics) jarring juxtaposed with prose about Hekate and archetypes.

  • Becky
    2019-05-12 16:29

    The word "ambitious" is often applied to "big" books -- books with "big" themes, books with "big" language, "big" aspirations, and so on...none of which usually add up to much. For a reviewer to call a book "ambitious" is instantly damning, as it implies that the ambitions have not been fulfilled. Not so with the novels of Haven Kimmel, which deal with such huge swaths of academic study, and in such depth, they could be called "ambitious." But not merely ambitious. No. Haven Kimmel delivers. She has read, she has studied, and not only that -- mmmman, can she write. Iodine plunges the reader into the bizarre daily life and dream journals of Trace Pennington. Trace lives in an abandoned house with her dog, Weeds, takes showers at a local truck stop, and is such an ardent academic that she has enough credits to declare multiple majors and minors. We also quickly learn that she grew up wanting to have sex with her father (who found the idea unacceptable), her mother uses her as a sort of currency, and that she receives frequent visits from all manner of wild animals, some of whom speak to her. If that's not enough weirdness, Iodine also enters the worlds of UFO sightings and alien abductions, post-punk/New Wave music (Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" album figures prominently and very appropriately), mythology and archetype, academia and its follies, feminism, and so much more. This book is a staggering achievement of layer upon layer upon layer of meaning. I've read it only once and have barely scratched the surface. I'm going to enjoy digging further into it on subsequent reads. It's not an easy read (see above, re "layers"), but it is gripping. Haven Kimmel has created a living, breathing, complex character in Trace Pennington and has laid bare that character's psyche for all to see. This is one of the most literate, challenging, downright terrifying books I've read in years. Just when I think I've seen all there is to see in the world of contemporary fiction, just when I think there isn't any fresh way to explore the same old themes the human race ponders over and over again, a flash of brilliance appears. Haven Kimmel is utterly original and enormously talented.

  • Peggy
    2019-05-06 20:14

    Um, clearly I am equal parts A. Not crazy (phew!) and B. Unlearned because I could hardly follow this book at all. It, I can only suppose, captures the mind of a deeply disturbed, highly intelligent girl and I was just plugging through until before I know it, it's the end of the book, there's this crazy twist and it was over. I was just scratching my head and wondering what the heck just happened. Hated it.

  • John Hood
    2019-05-23 12:21

    Bound August 28, 2008 Miami Sun PostZippy Rides Again! (Sort Of)Haven Kimmel Pours Some Iodine on the WoundedBy John HoodIt’s been seven years since Haven Kimmel broke into the Best Book lists with her startlingly frank and outwardly funny memoir, A Girl Named Zippy. In that time there’s been a three-piece of place (the novels The Solace of Leaving Early, Something Rising [Light and Swift:] and The Used World), a second look back (She Got up off the Couch), a book for swift kids (Orville: A Dog Story) and a retelling of Revelation for the hard-cover companion to the über-hip online belief-sheet Killing the Buddha.And as if those weren’t already more than many writers write in a lifetime, she’s now unleashed Iodine (Free Press $24), a novel that reads like the result of all of the above — through the eyes of a stalker.Okay, not quite. But the dame at the center of the story is oddly stalkable (and duly stalked), even as she too is kinda on the stalk.But I aggress. Before we core it’s necessary to know who’s holding the knife, which in this case seems to be two keen women, each inhabiting the same body.One is Iaanthe Covington, a name stolen from a gravestone and used to hide behind in a Midwestern campus full of prying eyes. In lesser hands, the tag would be terribly difficult to live up to — or to live down. But Kimmel isn’t a lesser hand at anything. And neither is this overlayered Gothette with Jet Grape hair and lips, who’s got a mind that can link Lear to love-loss without skipping an Ibsen.True also for Trace Pennington. Sister of a meth-wracked mother of missing children and friend to a frequent abductee, Trace has her daddy’s truck, her daddy’s dog and her daddy’s long lashes. Oh yeah, and she keeps an old, abandoned, kerosene-heated homestead.Together the two encroach upon each other until the lines begin to blur, the lies begin to true and the lives begin to be too much for one small girl’s body to handle, even if her mind is as big as the Pacific. So she turns outward, to her friend, to her family and to a nutty professor who has read every book in the world and still isn’t half as keen as he thinks he is.Trace is, though; so smart, in fact, that she could outsmart herself if she wanted to. And with the amount of know in that noggin of hers, she just might. Imagine having all of history’s thoughts and theories right at the tip of your tongue and rarely saying a word. It’s a heady mix, all right, and the rarefied air could leave you breathless. It can’t be easy to write learned and not come off like a showoff, nor can it be simple to set even a part of a story at a university and not end up like a yawn. I mean, hell, we’ve all been there before, right? Maybe. But not like this. See, Iodine is less about some erudite professor wowing a starry-eyed student, and more about what happens when that student has her starry eyes gouged out, and begins to see. Kinda sorta really just like Zippy, only different.I slipped Ms. Kimmel 13 of my trademark either/ors; here’s what she slipped back:Archetype or alien?Archetypes, certainly. Aliens are only for some, but archetypes are EVERYWHERE. Bees or bobcats?Bees for poetry; bobcats in reality. Oooo, I love me some bobcats. Pigs or coyotes?Coyotes, although they’re meaner than you think.Acorns or walnuts?Acorns. They eventually become giant trees.Circuses or rodeos?Circuses are for dreams; rodeos are thrilling.Memory or imagination?There’s so little difference I don't know how to answer.Yoknapatawpha or Winesburg?Yoknapatawpha if you want your genius raw; Winesburg if you want to visit someplace that seems real.Rain Man or Wolf Man?Wolf Man. Rain Man would be so tiresome.Peter Murphy or Robert Smith?Oooh, ow. I never stop listening to Robert Smith, but Peter Murphy is like a ghost you love and can’t give up.Flannery O'Connor or Eudora Welty?This hurts me mightily and if you tell Ms. Welty I'll call you a liar, but oh it’s always, always Flannery.Elizabeth Bishop or Emily Dickinson?Dickinson. Dickinson. Dickinson. (But Elizabeth Bishop — touched by the gods, as well.)Durham, Raleigh, Muncie, Oxford and Miami? How does South Florida fit into that mix?Certainly not geographically. I love South Florida, but I’m really coming just to see Mitchell Kaplan, that handsome devil.

  • Darlene
    2019-05-14 16:30

    What a strange, literary, thoughtful, intellectual, creepy, brilliant book. Kimmel is really showing her chops as a writer of literary fiction here and this is not for light readers. Discussions of Jungian archetypes sit side by side with examinations of mythology and psychological symbolism all while we watch the main character try to make sense of her daily life while sorting through her sordid past. A really captivating heroine. We're not sure what's wrong but clearly something is. What's real? What's lies? What's disassociation? I have to go back and read it again to be certain, and I'm not sure even that will clear it all up. It's fascinating to be sure. A very good read.

  • Caren
    2019-04-22 15:17

    I hesitated to only give this book one star because I think it deserves better than that, so I settled on two even though I really didn't like it at all. It was very well written, and it would have been interesting to be able to dissect it with someone a lot smarter than I am who could help me make sense of it. But it was just so disturbing that when I was finished with it I really wanted to put it behind me once and for all. I didn't know what was real and what wasn't, and just didn't know what to think! But that's part of the point, I realize, so by rating it low it's not because I don't think Kimmel did a good job, it's just because it was a disturbing topic that I didn't like thinking about. Definitely makes you think, but not as uplifting and redemptive as I think it was supposed to be. I am still amazed at Kimmel's skill and intellect. Just not one I'd ever want to read again.

  • Nancy
    2019-04-22 19:33

    What a glorious, riveting, moving, utter mess of a book... I adored it, and think I will need to read it again to truly understand what exactly was going on.

  • Garry Bartle
    2019-04-30 12:15

    The Book: the first sentence of this book starts out "I never had sex with my father but I would have, if he had agreed." I almost turned it off then, but decided to give it a legitimate listen. After about an hour and a half, I just couldn't continue. I found the plot extremely hard to follow and there didn't seem to be much of a point to the whole thing.I recognize that the intent was to convey the fractured mental state of the main character, but there were many instances where the author would stop in the middle of a sentence and pick up with a completely different train of thought. It just made it very difficult to follow.The Narration: This had to be the worst narration of a book I have ever experienced. The author took it upon herself to narrate the book. One might think that even add to the flavor of the story seeing as how the author should be more familiar than any hired voice with the subject matter, but every word felt forced, as though she was both reading from a script for the very first time and was only semi-literate. There was absolutely no flow or rhythm to the narration. It was very choppy, broken, and distracting. Please! Don't take my word on the delivery, listen to the available sample and judge for yourself.I have never not finished an audio-book that I have started until now. Ultimately, it was just too painful to continue. The overall tone was very dark and the mood was completely depressing. I don't believe that even once, in the hour and a half that I invested, any character experienced even one happy or non-depressing thought. I couldn't justify finishing this book.

  • Aileen
    2019-05-10 14:23

    I think I liked it. I basically ate it in one sitting this afternoon, breaking only when forced to change location. That means I must like it. And I have been thinking about it for the last few hours since I finished it, so I think I must really like it. And I did, though there were parts that I felt didn't read true, and a few plot points that don't exactly work with the final revelation, i think, without a heavy reliance on the idea of the unreliable narrator. (which is fine, i guess, but i dont like questioning something and the only answer i can find is, oh well, she was crazy, so i guess it makes sense - i need a little sense in its senselessness). beyond those two little quibbles... i am very fond of kimmel's writing, and she always leaves me with a reading list, which is not faint praise. just one more thing - in her first novel she writes of a preacher who comforts a couple whose daughter has died of appendicitis in the night. and somehow it is known that she has cried out in the night in pain, but the parents don't hear her over the tv they leave on in their bedroom as they sleep. that image, to me, is as full of southern gothic and greek tragedy as any of the meth labs and child abuse and purple flowers here, and though kimmel is certainly capable of this high midwestern trauma, i hope that she does not entirely forget the more mundane.

  • Carrie Bond
    2019-05-17 20:10

    Nope, nope, nope. I can understand the writing as a tool to illustrate a mind shattered from a mental illness. I also have no problem saying I may not be smart enough to follow the archetype discussions occurring here. There is a reason I am not a psych major - because most of it is intangible nonsense to me. And although there was a hell of a reveal, I can't say slogging through the rest of the book was worth what I got. I think I'm just not the reader this book was intended for.

  • Erin
    2019-05-22 15:12

    Half of the book is a confusing dream journal which I was too lazy to make sense of. I still don't really understand what the dang thing was about, and I read the WHOLE thing.

  • Jenn
    2019-05-20 14:26

    I did not like this. I can't 100% explain why other than it was disjointed and very hard to figure out what was a dream and what was real. I did not like Ianthe/Trace. I did not like her sister Dusty or her friend Candy. What was with the abduction theories? Was her father Colt real? Did she really marry Jacob and how long was she married to him? I'm sorry, I just did not fully get this novel and don't understand the reason it was written.

  • Lisa Beaulieu
    2019-05-07 16:20

    This is not an easy book, in either the writing nor the subject matter. The first sentence of this book starts out "I never had sex with my father but I would have, if he had agreed." I put it in the "back to the library pile" but, then, having nothing else to read and having enjoyed Kimmel's other books, pushed on past the beginning. Set in the 1980s, age of repressed memory syndrome, false memory syndrome, Satanic Ritual abuse hysteria, multiple personality disorder, and the first Whitney Streiber book about being abducted by aliens, Iodine is a meditation on what all that might have meant or been about. It is a wild ride, and amazingly well done. Something happened to Trace in her childhood, and it is clear much of what she writes is fantasy/cover memory. Her "other personality" is Ianthe, a brilliant college student about to finish her degree. We go with Trace to meet people from her childhood, we go with Ianthe to class, and watch as she writes in her dream journal and listen in to theories of Freud, Jung, and Hillman, and archetypes, and fairytales. It is fascinating, and I couldn't put the book down. Kimmel is scathing about the victim worship of the 80s, represented by a professor who runs a women's victimization class and tries to act as the students' therapist. After finishing the book, I was unclear still on exactly what parts were real or not, but, interested enough to find out, that I picked up a book by James Hillman, whom the author credits for inspiring her. Reading the first chapter of his book "Revisioning Psychology" I had a great big aha moment. I would not say I completely "understand" Iodine now, as it is richly layered and has multiple meanings and nuances - but reading Hillman got the ball rolling for me.The longer I think about this book, the more I like it. It was a fun puzzle, a prose poem about the process of becoming an adult psychologically, a warning to our society about repression and projection, which leads to hysteria and witch-hunts, and probably a number of other things that haven't occured to me quite yet.For anyone who enjoyed the book but feels a bit befuddled, I found Haven Kimmel's blog, where she has this discussion of her book.

  • Claire
    2019-05-21 20:08

    3.5 stars, perhaps? I finished this book last night, and my first thought was "What the heck did I just read?!?" But...then I slept on it, and woke up thinking about it, and proceeded to spend almost 3 hours reading this discussion thread on Haven Kimmel's blog about it. So...I clearly didn't hate it. This was not an "enjoyable" read by any means. It was VERY dark. I mean, the very first sentence is a red flag screaming SOMETHING is NOT RIGHT here. Trace has a past that you can't take lightly. It was a bit of a slow start for me, but by the time Trace starts classes, the pace seems to pick up. It took me a bit to get used to the dream journaling and the switch between first person and a very close third, but I think these things are part of what made the book work.I appreciated the literary nature - Kimmel obviously did her research and worked hard to make this all come together. From the chapter titles to the stories within, it made me wish I remembered more from my high school psych/sociology classes, and mythology.If you like stories with clear cut endings and answers, this probably isn't for you. If you don't mind being a bit exasperated and having to mull things over (or read discussions/go to a book club)to come close to having some of the answers, then you're good to go. I still don't have all the answers, I never will, and I'll probably be thinking about it for some time.I really don't know how to review this. The writing was beautiful. The story was pretty darn troubling. But it really does speak to the lingering effects of childhood trauma, and I've never read anything quite like it (or even close).

  • Sue
    2019-05-19 15:35

    It kills me to say I didn't like this book, because I adore Haven Kimmel and Zippy and her quirky family and her fiction has been excellent (Something Rising, Solace). And the premise of this - whoa. I knew I was going to be blown away by the layers that revealed themselves, the twists and turns that were sure to be meted out. Plus, plus...Haven Kimmel was the reader on this audio book! YES! With my chai team my commute to work now going to be the best part of my day!Um, no. I finished this book, turned it off, and actually said out loud, "WHAT THE [email protected]%# WAS THAT?" I'm sorry....I slogged through the seemingly endless passages about Jung and Freud, I withstood the ugly sad life of Dusty the sister, the crazy sad life of Candy the friend, the sick mean life of Trace's childhood, and the absolute heartache when Trace abandoned her dog, Weeds, to live with her controlling college professor....and then, and don't know what is real and what isn't?So the pain and sh!t you go through with Trace and then you find out that probably Dusty was alive but Candy has been long gone: when did Trace visit her, anyway? Her childhood never made any sense to me: did she run away or did she stay and get molested by her stepfather or get arrested for her brother's murder? And her dog never existed through the first half of the book so just what was that all about when she can't bring him to live with her professor? I realize this review is basically meaningless, but it's indicative of my understanding of the book.

  • Linda
    2019-05-07 19:18

    "Iodine" was a difficult to book for me to read both its subject matter and the style in which it was presented. The book jacket tells us that we are faced with an "unreliable narrator." My book club has a long conversation about this. The opinions were mixed. I felt the story line was strong, but the main characters extremely damaged. Trace was a woman with extreme mental health issues, living alone, with only her dog, in an old farmhouse and her mind in her own time and place. Her reality wasn't the same as others. She was hiding from her parents and like wise the rest of the world. There is also the person Ianthe who is Trace in the outside world, like the college she attends where she is a bright student, especially in the ares of literature and psychology. The writing of her"dream journals," brings in her past and helps expand the fuller character of Trace. It wasn’t easy for me to know whether Trace was in the past, the present or a mixed up world of dreams and fantasies. Even the relationship she becomes involved seemed half real and half delusional. I have read other books by Kimmel and will continue to do so but they are not always comfortable or easy to follow.

  • Ab
    2019-05-22 19:18

    This is one crazy, messed up story. Much of the time I really didn't have a clue what was actually going on or why something was happening. Obviously there was something in the novel/writing because I continued to read it until the end, but on the whole, I'm fairly baffled by the whole thing, and more than a bit disturbed. I don't know, maybe among the incestuous fantasies, the constant cold and inability to be warm in the squatted farmhouse, the poor abandoned dog who only loved and wanted to be loved, the weird "Rosemary's Baby"-like dream sequences in a basement tied to a barber's chair surrounded by church people trying to exorcise demons, the people who weren't really there . . . I could go on. While fascinating for it's bizarreness, everything was a bit too dream-like to hold itself strongly together as one story. I went on a walk after I finished it, and reflected, and couldn't help wondering if I was really on a walk or only dreaming it or having a detached-like seizure as Trace did -- what is real and what is dream? Very existential, almost to a fault.

  • Tina Hayes
    2019-05-16 19:16

    Very well-written prose kept my interest in this fascinating novel. The main character, Trace, is a college girl living in an abandoned house--the reader's first clue that she has a mental illness. Coming from a very dysfuntional family, her older sister and her best friend from childhood, Candy, are her only links to the past. The deeper we read, the more we find clues to Trace's problems, constantly wondering if what we read is her reality or all in her mind. Although this novel is dark and somewhat disturbing, I found it hard to put down. Trace's character was intriguing from page one, more so at the end of the last chapter. There is a lot of psychology talk in this book, about the subject, Freud, and Jung. I actually liked those parts but felt it might be a bit heavy for some people, since it paused the storyline. I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in mental illness, psychology, or just looking for a good read.

  • Kirstie
    2019-05-09 20:31

    Something that becomes clear from the moment you start this novel is that Haven Kimmel is brilliant. She could be part of a new species of evolved humans who sit around philosophizing all day, finding a new way to live. At it's heart, this book is an adventurous journey into rural Indiana where conservative religious fanaticism, alien/extra-terrestrial encounters, mental illness, feminism, philosophy, crystal meth, and Kate Bush all manage to collide. Every page is a bit intriguing but it's also a huge train wreck that doesn't make too much sense, either. I like Haven Kimmel's writing but I think she needed to develop the cohesiveness of this novel better and I prefer The Solace of Leaving Early a great deal more because of it.

  • Jan Burke
    2019-04-24 19:10

    In no way is this a typical Unreliable Narrator tale. Nothing about this wonderfully complex, mysterious book is typical. As I read, I felt that every minute I was working to resolve the puzzle that Haven Kimmel has brilliantly woven through this elaborate exploration of her protagonist's broken mental condition. I rarely take time to read a book twice, but after reading the very lengthy thread on the author's blog, I see so much about the story in a new light and plan to start through the book again right away.

  • '·.¸¸.·''¯'··._.·§tå¢ÿ
    2019-05-01 16:30

    Great Book. The thinking persons book. Haunts you a bit, and I wasn't really sure of the outcome, though you'd be an idiot to not know it would be tragic. A bit reminded me of ms T Morrison, in that I wasn't always sure I was on the same path with some of the abstract thoughts or that I understand completely what happened to every character in the end. Still thinking about it, which is a sign of a good book. Your still haunted by it and atempting to wrap your mind around it. Disturbing, excellently wriiten, higher thinking subject matter, dreams.

  • Nancy
    2019-05-06 19:26

    So, you write a great memoir or two with a wonderful sense of humor, but your colleagues look down their noses at memoir and especially anything funny.You decide to take your love of Freud and Jung and pour it into a novel with a plot that incorporates the hot new thing--Magical Realism.Ug.What is wrong with writing what you do well?Most of the reviewers claim that they could not follow it and were not smart enough. Writing scenes in which a college professor lectures on content is a weak way to develop a plot--even a psychological one.If you liked Zippy, steer clear of this.

  • Kristina Cole
    2019-04-22 19:10

    really wish i could give this a 4.5. the best way to describe this book is if it was a movie, david lynch would be the director. i still don't know what was real and what wasn't, but it was one of the more thought-provoking books i've read in a long long time.

  • Nicole
    2019-05-20 12:07

    there should be TEN STARS for this book. TEN.

  • Malinda Lawrence
    2019-04-27 13:16

    I can't remember the last time a book haunted me the way this one continues to, despite having finished reading it. Twice. I don't think I could improve on the following review from, so I'll just cut and paste it:5.0 out of 5 stars Iodine (an element which does not naturally occur in the free state), September 6, 2008By Ashley Megan "amazonfox" (Vernon, CT United States) - See all my reviews(VINE VOICE) This review is from: Iodine: A Novel (Hardcover)Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)Trace (a faint copy, a minute amount) Pennington is also Ianthe (violet, handmaiden of Persephone, the pure soul visited by Queen Mab) Covington, and both are brilliant and mad, in the classical literary Bertha Rochester madwoman-in-the-attic sense. Trace is fleeing a horrific childhood, and as Ianthe, she falls in love with her professor, Jacob (who labored fourteen years to win the woman he loved) Matthias. But her carefully constructed world is slowly unraveling, and we the readers must try to follow Trace/Ianthe through the labyrinth of her own mind as past and present interweave themselves, until one pulled thread threatens to topple the entire structure. (Could I have mixed one more metaphor in there?)Other reviewers have gotten caught up in trying to separate what is "real" and what is Trace's psychosis, to figure out what "really" happened to her. I think this is missing the point; in a sense, everything in the book - every fantasy, every hallucination, every dream, every strange visitor in the night - "happened." Sure, some of them only happened in the far reaches of Trace's troubled mind, in the locked closet of Bluebeard's to which only she holds the key, while some of them took place in the outside, observable world. So what? You could try to parse out past from present, physical from psychical, all day long - and you probably won't be able to stop yourself from trying - but insofar as this is Trace's story, her perceptions and her experiences are what matters.Now, that's not to say that you can just accept everything at face value here. Obviously, Trace is the ultimate unreliable narrator, and it is, on some level, important to try to peel back the layers of metaphor with which she has constructed her own reality. Thus, when she abandons her dog to go live with Jacob, she's not really "abandoning" her "dog." And when her childhood friend claims to have been abducted and impregnated by aliens, it's not really her "friend" who was taken by "aliens." Part of the joy of this book is piecing together the connections Trace makes in her own mind, the way she incorporates psychoanalytic theory, Jungian symbols, literary allusions, and a hundred other tiny references into a long and complicated narrative which she calls her own life.Did I mention that Trace/Ianthe is brilliant? Another of the thrills of "Iodine" is the way, as Ianthe, she quietly skewers the pretentious, self-absorbed culture of academia. Some passages were so wickedly funny they made me snort my free-trade organic soy milk double-caff latte all over my copy of "The Chalice and the Blade." Her descriptions of a stuffy psych prof and a women's studies guru are spot-on. Ianthe may be crazy, but she ain't stupid, as the saying goes. And the irony of a young women suffering from mental illness who is obsessed with the works of Jung and Hillman - even to the point of incorporating their theories into her delusions - is delicious.Normally I can't stand books that are essentially novel-length character studies. But "Iodine" was so fascinating, so complex, that upon finishing the final page I immediately turned back to the beginning and read it again. This is one of those too-rare books that will probably never stop yielding up surprises, that will only get richer and deeper with each subsequent reading. "Iodine" is not for everyone, but I for one loved it.Help other customers find the most helpful reviews Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

  • Juushika
    2019-05-22 20:25

    As a child, Trace was abused by her mother and fell in love with her father; now she living as Ianthe and at the top of her class in college, but everything changes when she falls in love with her professor. As she balances her old and new lives, the reader wades through increasingly unbelievable stories and Trace comes ever closer to discovering the truth of her past. Intelligent, complex, and difficult, Iodine challenges but also rewards the reader with a confusing personal history, rich psychological overtones, and a shifting, twisting plot. I enjoyed this book more and more as it went on, and I love the end product. I recommend it to any reader willing to rise to its challenge.Trace/Ianthe lives two lives, therefore Iodine is a book of two parts: The first half of the book is dedicated to Trace, who was abused by her mother and fell in love with her father, who now lives an isolated life while she tries to keep in touch with the shreds of her childhood. After Trace falls in love, the second half of the book goes to her alias Ianthe, an gifted student who casts everything and marries her professor, only to become increasingly suspicious of his past. Trace's story is piecemeal and unbelievable, haunted by visions of animals and a friend obsessed with alien abduction, and so the first half of the book is bizarre, slow, and confusing. Ianthe's story is easier to follow and more enjoyable to read, but it reaches back to the beginning of the book to knit the story together. The novel is an ever-changing landscape, twisted by an unreliable narrator, complicated by layers of psychology and symbolism. It is a slow, thoughtful book—not suitable for casual page-turning, it requires attention and thought.And it rewards that effort. Iodine is not perfect—would that the first half were easier to like, if not to consume; would that the twists and turns were more predictable—but it is intelligent and thought-provoking, and I found it very satisfying. There is simply so much going on: among others, a feminine Oedipal complex, the psychology of alien abduction, the symbolism of Hecate and the tripartite woman, male dominance and female objectification (which reminded me of The Story of O), the ghost of the former wife (which reminded me of Rebecca), the division between memory and imagination, sanity and insanity. It's a lot for one book to handle, and none of the topics are fully discussed; instead, each is a contributing factor, creating a character, her history, and her life. Therefore, the book opens the door to infinite thought, but it also tells the story of Trace/Ianthe. Her past is conflicting, her life is unbelievable, her narration is unreliable, but her story is real.I found some sections—Trace's dog, her totems and animal guides, her hopeless love—touching and emotionally charged. I found many sections—explorations of psychology and psychological models in literature, fairy tales, and the protagonist—incredibly thought-provoking. I found the constantly changing story both confusing and intriguing, and when I finished the book, fairly certainly I finally understood, I wanted to turn right back to the first page and begin again. I still may. So while Iodine may have benefited from more appealing content, a simpler story, and less ambitious goals, I greatly enjoyed it. The book becomes more readable, interesting, and thought-provoking as it goes on, and the final product is a gem of a novel which begs further thought and appreciation. This is an intelligent, difficult book which is well worth the effort it takes to read, and I highly recommend it to any reader ready to rise to that challenge.