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Read advance reader review of Bad Animals by Sarah Braunstein

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Bad Animals

A Novel

by Sarah Braunstein

Bad Animals by Sarah Braunstein X
Bad Animals by Sarah Braunstein
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  • Published Mar 2024
    304 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 26 member reviews
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  • Lesa R. (Joliet, IL)
    Edgy and unusual: Two of my favorite things.
    I really loved this book that was at times, all over the place! I liked the interesting characters and their unique backrounds. I enjoyed the author, Sarah Braunstein's style of writing. I found it to be totally relatable and at many times, I laughed out loud or got that warm, fuzzy feeling from her subtle humor. I liked the edgy and unusual storyline as it was anything but typical. It was fun to try to picture these characters and put yourself in their shoes as for the most part, they were all hopelessly flawed.

    For me, this is one of those books that when it ended, left me wanting to know what was next for these characters. Especially Maeve and her crazy escapades while Jack was away. I will certainly look for more from this creative, thought-provoking author and am so glad I got the opportunity to discover her work.
  • Diane S. (El Paso, TX)
    Compelling Story
    Bad Animals by Sarah Braunstein grabbed me on the first page and never let go. Maeve, an empty nester, loses her beloved job at the community library after being accused of an indiscretion involving a young patron. Consequently, Maeve is at loose ends, and as her story unfolded, I was completely drawn into her life of love, lust, envy, lies, revenge and regret. In spite of her foibles and questionable actions, she remained likable and real, and I found myself pulling for her. Bad Animals would engender a lively and thoughtful discussion for book clubs. I'm new to Sarah Braunstein's writing, and I'm eager to read more.
  • Linda O. (Jacksonville, NC)
    A Thought-Provoking Read
    In Bad Animals, Sarah Braunstein has written an immensely thought-provoking book. An epigram at the beginning of the novel seems to provide one of the underlying themes of the work. Maeve has been a librarian for fifteen productive years until she is "laid off," supposedly because of budget cuts, but she thinks an accusation from a young patron might have also been responsible. She "stews" over being let go, and like a caged animal, her thoughts go back and forth over the incident. Her life at the library consumed her days. She was writing to Harrison Riddles, her favorite author, in the hope that she could persuade him to come speak at the library. As she writes, she considers what she thinks might interest him, but when she begins to write about the things that interest her, the words start to flow. She writes that the library "soothed her, contained her," and now it was gone. Katrina, her co-worker, told her that Riddles had called asking for Maeve and had made arrangements to actually come to the library, He is going to write a book about Willie, one of the library's patrons, and asks her to help him with the book and his relationship with Willie. She "sensed that something was going to happen." Her Life Coach says that Maeve's a person who has always followed the rules and advises her to try breaking one. At Harry's house she decides she can "break a rule," and they begin an affair. At the same time, she cannot forget the girl who made the accusation that Maeve thinks caused her dismissal. Katrina says Libby was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Maeve does some research and finds there could be multiple reasons behind the behaviors that have targeted Libby and brought out the worse in her. Maeve desperately wants to help her. But how? And she desperately wants to tell her husband about the affair with Riddles. But how? In the end she finds the answer that has been foreshadowed throughout the book. Maeve was sometimes an exasperating character, Riddles was always a riddle, but Braunstein's portrayal of human behavior was enlightening. Highly recommended.
  • Helia R. (Goodlettsville, TN)
    Already on my top 2024 fiction list!
    If you love to read about libraries and readers and writers, this book is for you. If you love brilliant, fresh writing, this book is for you. If you love a complex, unreliable narrator, this book is for you. If you worry about privilege, appropriation and who gets to tell whose story, this book is for you. If you want a propulsive, immersive read that simultaneously expands your mind by asking big questions, you need to read this book. If you're in the market for unforgettable, fully-fledged characters, honestly rendered and painfully flawed, I recommend BAD ANIMALS to you. For everyone else: Read BAD ANIMALS. It'll be worth your time.
  • Ellie B. (Mount Airy, MD)
    Bad Animals; a complex human novel
    We meet Maeve, the quiet, dedicated librarian, as she is confronted with the worst accusation ever. We meet Libby, the teen with Borderline Personality Disorder, as she plays her game with the adults around her. We meet Maeve's quiet, loyal husband, and intelligent botanist daughter who is developing new plants to change the world. We meet Katrina, Maeve's coworker and Katrina's African boyfriend. We meet Harrison, the famous author, who wants to write a new book, and draws Maeve into the process.
    The author intricately weaves the characters together in a complex web. But who is honest? Who is the best liar? Who is capable of telling the truth? So many unknowns.
    At the same time, we are treated to the author's ability to describe Maine's weather on a daily basis; the reader can feel the rain and visualize the clouds and the coastline. I read the book too quickly because it's that good, and immediately needed to re-read because I was positive that I missed something. I did, and I did.
    This will be a great discussion book!
  • Cynthia V. (New York, NY)
    Intriguing Read
    I found this novel to be very insightful and engrossing. The characters may not be very likable, but they are all well developed and portrayed honestly. The premise is original, the pacing is great, the writing well done and all around unputdownable for me. There is much exploration of the human condition in all its shades of gray...nothing lazily written here. The novel has feeling, humanity, mystery, comedic touches here and there. All in all, it was quite a nice surprise to have enjoyed it as much as I did.
  • Beverly D
    I found this novel un-put-downable. Written in a very straightforward, no nonsense way, the writing was descriptive of the lives of several of the main characters. BUT the deceptions living inside of them make us want to know more about them and understand if they are REALLY so sure of themselves.
    The author's exceptional "nature" interludes so added to the emotional intensity of the stories. This would be an excellent choice for a bookclub. Highly recommend!

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