This book is not yet featured on Listopia. So I was certain that I would love Fragile Beasts. I hate it when I'm wrong. Three stars is probably a little generous.
Start by marking “Fragile Beasts” as Want to Read: When I read Tawni O'Dell's Coal Run a few years ago, it became an instant favorite. Tawni O'Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of Fragile Beasts, Sister Mine, Coal Run, and Back Roads, which was an Oprah's Book Club. Fragile Beasts. Tawni O'Dell, Author. Crown/Shaye Areheart $25 (p) ISBN Tweet. More By and About This Author.
However, parts of it were compelling so I can't quite give it two stars. Set in Pennsylvania coal country, Fragile Beasts tells the story of the wealthy and reclusive Candace Jack, a woman who has tried to recreate the Spain of her youth in the remote mansion w When I read Tawni O'Dell's Coal Run a few years ago, it became an instant favorite.
Set in Pennsylvania coal country, Fragile Beasts tells the story of the wealthy and reclusive Candace Jack, a woman who has tried to recreate the Spain of her youth in the remote mansion where she makes her home. Her obsession for all things Spanish begins as so many obsessions do: The love of her life, a Spanish bullfighter, is killed in the ring, leaving Candace to forever mourn what could have been.
Understandably, the town sees her as the crazy old spinster lady that nobody ever sees--although, in lieu of cats, she keeps a bull.
She bought the bull that killed her lover and has always kept one bull from each generation of his progeny. So, we have an old woman nearing the end of a life created from walling herself off from her own emotions and from other people. We've been here before. There's only one thing to do: In this case, Candace agrees to take in two teenage boys who have recently lost their father in a drunk driving accident. Their mother left years ago and is clearly an unfit parent, even though she returns to collect the boys and move them to Arizona.
Candace reluctantly agrees to take the boys in mainly to spite the mother, to whom she takes an instant dislike. The rest of the novel follows the uneasy relationship between the two boys, Kyle and Klint, who are coping with the death of their father, and Candace, a woman whose motherly instincts are non-existent. The main issue with the book is that there is simply too much going on.
There are two stories, one set in the past during Candace's experiences in Spain and one in the present. The present day story is narrated from 3 points of view: However, the "voice" between these three perspectives isn't varied enough. Kyle in particular seems inauthentic as his chapters don't always read like that of a young teenager.
Sure, he's mature for his age, but I've never known a teenager to be that insightful. Candace Jack is exactly what one would expect of a wealthy older woman--always concerned with the proper way of dressing, speaking, eating, behaving, etc. If she had been more salty and cantankerous it would have given the novel more energy and perhaps more suspense.
She has flashes of humor, but they're sparse. These first person points of view also lead to a lot of telling and not showing. Most of the chapters are presented as internal dialogue in which the character reflects on the progress being made in forming the tentative bonds that may eventually bring them together as a family. Instead of reflections, I would have preferred to see more in the moment interactions between the characters. The Luis chapters serve primarily to explain what happened in Candace's life decades ago. Despite its predictability and its flaws, there are some compelling moments, some witty dialogue, and I admire O'Dell's refusal to shy away from the dark corners of life.
For me, the back story of Candace and the bullfighter are the most interesting, as are Luis's stories about being a boy in Spain.
These stories made me wish an entire novel had been dedicated to Candace's youth. As it is, the competing storylines never seem to get the breathing room they need to come alive. View all 7 comments. Oct 25, Jennifer Lane rated it it was amazing. I love stories about dysfunctional families, and this was one of the best I've read in a long time.
Fragile Beasts opens with the narration of Kyle Hayes, a 15 year-old boy who adores his older brother, Pennsylvania high-school baseball standout Klint, as well as his younger sister, Krystal. Kyle's attended every one of Klint's baseball games, and has drawn countless pictures for Krystal. Problem is, Krystal now lives far away in Arizona after their mom scooped her up and left their father for an I love stories about dysfunctional families, and this was one of the best I've read in a long time.
Problem is, Krystal now lives far away in Arizona after their mom scooped her up and left their father for another man. An even bigger problem is that Kyle's father just inadvertently killed himself in a drunk-driving accident. It's quite a dilemma about where Kyle and Klint will live after their father's funeral.
Their dad was a blue-collar drunk, but he looks like "Parent of the Year" compared to their cruel, cold mother. Enter the wealthy, childless Candace Jack. Miss Jack agrees to take in the boys on, mostly to spite her nephew the owner of the local coal company but also to protect the boys from their mother. Candace Jack has an intricate history of her own, and her family rivals the Hayes for putting the fun in dysfunction. She has a Spaniard, Luis, living with her, and decorates her large home in the brilliant colors and bullfighting paintings of Spain.
I adore the character of Kyle. Klint, on the other hand, is not so sweet. Here are some of my favorites: We enter adulthood and time escapes like water through an open hand. O'Dell totally nailed what happens to athletes who are depressed or suffering some sort of malaise: A teacher can be concerned about her sick mother and still assign chapters for her students to read. A truck driver can be angry at his spouse and still cover all the miles on his route.
If something is wrong with one, the other falls into decay. My only criticism is that the plot sagged a bit at the end of the second act. Brilliant characterization, gripping emotions, a plot with depth and heart — this novel is a must read. I never expected this book to capture me. I'm not even sure why I decided to read it. The thought was in the back of my mind that I might not get through it because bullfighting was in some way involved in the story.
But I usually like coming of age stories, so I plowed ahead. Candace Jack, a reclusive spinster with a sizable fortune and a mysterious past; Kyle and Klint Hayes, teenage brothers whose life hits a tailspin after their mother leaves with their little sister I never expected this book to capture me. Candace Jack, a reclusive spinster with a sizable fortune and a mysterious past; Kyle and Klint Hayes, teenage brothers whose life hits a tailspin after their mother leaves with their little sister and then their dad dies in a drunk driving accident; Luis, a Spaniard who transported himself to the coal country of Pennsylvania along with the majestic bull who killed his matador and Luis's best friend as well as Candace's lover Manuel.
I was enthralled with all of them, as well as some great minor characters.
The story was alternately told by Kyle, Candace and Luis and alternated in time and place between current day Pennsylvania and the bullrings of Spain over 50 years ago. As the story unfolds, the characters open their past and their hearts in many ways. I surprisingly loved this story. Dec 11, Deb Mj rated it it was amazing. What an absolutely wonderful book. A pair of teenage brothers living in Western Pennsylvania's coal country, abandoned by their mother and living with their father, find themselves alone after their father's accident.
Faced with having to move to Arizona with a mother who has already demonstrated that she wants nothing to do with them, they are eventually taken in by a wealthy elderly spinster whose heart is still captured by her past life in Spain and the love of her life, a matador gored to de What an absolutely wonderful book.
Faced with having to move to Arizona with a mother who has already demonstrated that she wants nothing to do with them, they are eventually taken in by a wealthy elderly spinster whose heart is still captured by her past life in Spain and the love of her life, a matador gored to death during a bullfight. The book explores the developing relationship between the boys and the woman and her motley staff.
The characters are richly drawn, the dialogue is wonderful especially Candace's comments to the boys' mother , and the book elicits wonderful emotions on all sides of the spectrum.
There are references to bullfighting, so if you're offended by that practice, you may take issue with those portions of the book. I loved it and would wholeheartedly recommend it. I'll definitely seek out more of the author's work. View all 5 comments. Oct 22, Maria rated it it was amazing. I love this book. Aside from getting me through several hours of workouts yes, the audio version , its quiet humor and character development were subtle and sweet. Because it switches between characters and time periods, those who struggle with more than a linear narrative might not enjoy this, but I loved that it bridged the past and the present to show how lives become entwined and enriched by those around them.
This is so much more than a tale about two boys being taken in by an old lonely w I love this book. This is so much more than a tale about two boys being taken in by an old lonely woman. It's about baseball who knew I'd like a book about baseball , about brothers and the love they have who knew that would appeal to me, too , and about the love and respect one can have for an animal that isn't even a pet.
The main narrator--a young boy named Kyle--probably has wisdom beyond his years, and isn't likely to have noticed all that he does were he a REAL 15 year old boy, rather than a fictitious one , but O'Dell develops his character to offer an honest appraisal of life with a willingness to be vulnerable and forgiving. Jun 19, Renee rated it it was amazing. Fragile Beasts is a story of unexpected occurrences, the collision of different worlds and,self preservation and strength. Tawni O'Dell has created wonderfully rich, complicated characters that are both layered and flawed.
The author has a gift of bring levity into a story to keep the flow going and the balance beautiful and her writing is crisp. Most interesting is the dual story that occurs in Spain a half century prior that delves deeply in the world of a matador, the bull and the fight. I re Fragile Beasts is a story of unexpected occurrences, the collision of different worlds and,self preservation and strength. I read the author's book "Back Roads" years ago, and at the time, remember thinking this writer is special. Aug 20, Tracings rated it it was amazing Shelves: Still, I loved this tale of a pair of abandoned boys and an edgy, aging spinster.
O'Dell nails the voices of her narrators, including the Spainard who has transplanted himself to W. Somewhat amazing that my husband also enjoyed this one, though he found it difficult to suspend h Yes, I'm lonesome for Western PA, and I find it comforting to read authors who understand the PA landscape. Somewhat amazing that my husband also enjoyed this one, though he found it difficult to suspend his belief because the baseball scenes were "totally inaccurate.
I'm hoping the inaccuracy doesn't extend to the bull-fighting scenes, since I found the description of the sport to be eloquent and moving. May 20, Paula rated it really liked it. But back to "Fragile Beasts. In "Fragile Beasts," two high school boys are taken in by a wealthy eccentric and t Of all things, Tawni O'Dell is from Indiana, PA, which makes her ok in my book to start with. In "Fragile Beasts," two high school boys are taken in by a wealthy eccentric and the bonds they form are remarkable Mar 19, Dana rated it it was amazing.
This is one of the most wonderful books I've read. I couldn't put it down. Tawni O'Dell has the reader choking back the tears one minute and laughing out loud the next. Because that's what the life of her characters is all about, as life is: The adolescent Kyle is extremely convincing in his behaviour and way of thinking.
Mar 01, Pages. Mar 23, Pages. When their hard-drinking, but loving, father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: Ventisco—a regal, hulking, jet-black beast who roams the land she owns with fiery impudence. Kyle adjusts more easily to the transition. A budding artist, he finds a kindred spirit in Miss Jack.
But local baseball hero Klint refuses to warm up to his new benefactress and instead throws himself into his game with a fierceness that troubles his little brother. From the Hardcover edition. Her hard-hitting, well-crafted story packs a wallop. About Fragile Beasts When their hard-drinking, but loving, father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: