Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Joan thinks she’s found love with a married man, but her life takes a tailspin when her previous, and also married, boyfriend and boss kills himself in front of her at a restaurant. Joan decides to go find answers and confront a woman called Alice, who has some connection to a trauma in her past. Alice had the life that Joan never did, but who is she?

To me, this book felt like a VC Andrews for the modern millennial (or whoever reads it really). It’s dark. It’s violent. It’s potentially triggering. There’s murder, a pedophile (it feels like every recent book has a pedophile in it), sex, abuse, rape, drugs, stalking, sexual politics and a very damaged and damaging woman at it’s heart. It’s even a bit melodramatic or maybe even self indulgent.

But it’s not bad.

I think that this book will probably be really talked about this Summer, and be one of those ones that people really love or hate this year. Especially because it focuses on some things like feminism and revenge that feels very hot button right now. I think some people will read it for that reason alone, and some people will really enjoy it’s dark, very angry, tone. Nothing wrong with that.

For me personally, I don’t mind a dark story, but I did feel like this one lost momentum sometimes and could have had more pace. As I mentioned above, it was a little over the top, but that’s OK. Taddeo makes some interesting and valid points within the story, about the way that Joan envies women who haven’t experienced trauma, about how she’s judged by things that happened to her though they were not in her control, about how women are often accused of using men who are actually abusing them. I’m not sure that spending time with a protagonist like Joan, who is so relentlessly angry and destructive, and with a plot that’s so dark and a little self indulgent, is the most beneficial read for everyone at this point in the pandemic. It may be too dark for some. But I like that the author is not afraid to talk about uncomfortable things and be a bit challenging.

Read It If: you like dark stories of women and trauma. This book may not be for those of you who need a break from dark stuff or who might be triggered, but I do think it may be one of the most talked about books this year.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for the ARC of this book for review. Animal is out now.

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