Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Review: The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle
by Aryn Kyle
3 of 5 stars
Twelve-year-old Alice Winston is growing up fast on her father's run-down horse ranch--coping with the death of a classmate and the absence of her older sister (who ran off with a rodeo cowboy), trying to understand her depressed and bedridden mother, and attempting to earn the love and admiration of her reticent, weary father. - from Goodreads
Let me first say that this book is about many things that either I don't find all that interesting or would just not generally seek out. Like horses. Training, riding, breeding horses. (I missed that girly boat apparently.) Mean fathers. Teacher infatuation. Preoccupation with death. Yet, and it's an important yet, I kept reading. Kyle somehow rendered all this that I don't much care for very interesting. Especially the horses.
That goodness in the book was the family dynamics. The sad, sick, oh-so-painfully-honest dysfunctional family dynamics. It was fascinating and heartbreaking to watch Alice try and survive the hand she was dealt. She pined for love. I ached for her. I cringed so many times at the characters decisions. I screamed what the characters should have said inside my head to no avail. This book had plenty of emotional pull. I'm still upset at one of my favorite characters for her ridiculousness at the end.
Another amazing thing was that I finished this book and realized there weren't any good guys. There were awful people who had bright (or bright - er moments) and okay people who turned out not so great. There were misunderstandings, forgiveness, and moments of dull beauty...but it was all sad and painful to me.
Though it is about a teenager, and many of the issues would be familiar to teens, I wouldn't classify it as YA because it had the feel of an adult looking back on childhood.
If it was all so interesting and powerful, why didn't I rate it higher? Mostly because it left me feeling unhappy, and I doubt I'll ever read it again. (Though I don't regret reading it.) Will you feel this way? I have no idea. It is a moving, realistic, memorable, contemporary read, filled with flawed, oh-so-flawed, people and lots of horses. You could give it a try. Want my copy?