The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle
This is the debut novel of my very oldest friend's daughter! (just to be clear-I don't mean oldest in terms of age, but that our mothers were best friends and I have known Lynn since I was born, since she is about 5 weeks older than I am). I only knew Ayrn as a young child, since the family moved to Colorado when she was young. But I have followed her life through correspondence with Lynn. How amazing is it that she wrote this great novel? And I don't say that because I know her mother! It is truly a great read! I was taken away with her use of words. Really an excellent writer, and I will share just the briefest quote taken from the book at the end of this post.
The book is about a young 12 year old girl, Alice Winston, and how she deals with the disappointment and frustrations that come with her life. Her mother appears to be severly clinically depressed, not leaving her bedroom, and leaving the family to basically grow by themselves. Alice's older sister runs off with a rodeo cowboy to escape the situation. Alice's father seems out of touch with what is happening financially to the horse farm. Alice is left to try to save the horse farm, with her father relying on her help to attract business by giving riding lessons, and stabling horses. Meanwhile, one of Alice's schoolmates is found dead in a canal. With both the loss of her sister and the death of the schoolmate, Alice begins to fantasize about a friendship with the dead girl, and about a relationship with her English teacher. The only real friendship that Alice does seem to have is with one of their riding students.
It is a very well written novel of family dysfunction and lonliness. Alice does not seem whiney or sorry for herself; she continues on with what she has to deal with and is by far, the strongest character in the book.
Here's a brief example of the writing in this book:
"This is the part of the story that I have never told my sister, the part I have never told anyone. This part of the story, I have kept for myself-the way they stood together over the body, sharing for a moment the huge unnameable grief of all the things that had come to pass, all the choices made, all the words unspoken. And in that moment, I saw them not as my mother and father, but as the people they were to each other after so many years of life intertwined, the people they had become: the woman who would forever be a child, the man who would forever carry her."
I loved the writing in this book! Her use of words is magically!
And here's the big news: Ayrn is going to be at the bookstore I Know You Like A Book in Peoria Heights signing books this week, on March 19th beginning at 6pm. I strongly encourage you to come, buy the book if you don't already have it and meet her! Maggie and I are meeting for dinner before if anyone is interested in joining us. Just let me know!
By the way, I noticed the other day, that the newest edition of the paperback also has a book club reading guide!