Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"The God of Animals" by Aryn Kyle

Alice struggles to make sense of her family and her world, and the Winstons' tendency to keep secrets and withhold the truth doesn't make it easy for her. What does she learn about her family, and in turn, about herself as the novel progresses? What did you think was most revelatory?

For an interesting audio interview with the author on NPR News with the Bryant Park Book Project check out the following link:


For information about the author check out:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved the book and thought it was an excellent first novel. The characters seemed very real and relatable. Alice was a wonderful character. I had much empathy for her. She was really growing up without a true parent. Her father seemed too preoccupied with running the stables and not aware of what a young girl would need. I couldn't figure out why the mother never sought help for her depression and agoraphobia (it seemed like she had agoraphobia to me). Her inability to function was not only a financial burden on the family but also created a huge emotional void for Alice and her sister. I kept hoping that Alice's father would spend more time with her and build her confidence with riding and help her become a champion like her sister. His effort seemed half hearted and like her few wins were more due to the horse's ability than hers. It was also sad that he never praised her for her hard work and devotion to helping run the stables.

I was partly surprised that Alice accepted all the gifts from the rich boarder. She knew something was going on with her father and the woman and she knew it felt wrong. But yet she accepted gift after gift. Why didn't her mother question where all these new clothes, jewelry etc. came from. She didn't seem too interested in fighting for her husband or her family. In some respects, she and Sheila's mom both shared isolation. Alice's mom's was self imposed and Sheila's mom's was a result of her husband's affair. I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition. I liked the image of Alice's mom watching life through the bedroom window. How accurate were her perceptions? What was she truly afraid of - rejection, failure or was it more of a hormonal imbalance that was set off after she gave birth?

Although Alice's relationship with the teacher was wrong, I felt it was some of the only adult advice and guidance she was given. It was a very interesting slant on adolesent boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. I felt Alice partially liked him because he was the father figure that gave her tons of attention unlike her true father. Also I wondered if she was partly doing it to rebel. She was always so responsible and did what she was supposed to do. Towards the end when she was angry at her father she seemed like she couldn't tell him fast enough about how bad she had been by dating the teacher.

The author never did say why Polly died in the canal - just accidental? - but that seemed strange as they walked that way everyday. Did anyone else wonder if the teacher was a little more than an alcoholic and if he killed her for some reason like he wanted to further their relationship into more than just a telephone relationship. Was he crying so hard in the car from guilt of having killed her? Just a thought - maybe off base but the teacher seemed very strange to me. Why was he always up at night to take Alice's calls?

Why did everyone smoke constantly -especially in the barn with all the straw and hay? Would people who owned a farm really smoke in their barns this much?

I felt it was a very character driven novel. Some of the themes were loyalty -Alice's loyalty to the farm and helping her father, the father's loyalty to the old, sick horses to compensate for his own father hurting Ace. Perserverance was also a theme. Alice and Sheila both faced difficulties with their parents, but they kept going, striving for something better.