I’ll be honest, I originally really wanted to read this book because of the gorgeous cover- white with blue birds, and the beautiful way the title Migratory Animals was written, simply gorgeous! Find out what I thought about the story and the characters!
Title: Migratory Animals
Author: Mary Helen Specht
Format: Paperback, 291 pages
Source: Received from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
When Flannery, a young scientist, is forced to return to Austin from five years of research in Nigeria, she becomes torn between her two homes. Having left behind her loving fiancé without knowing when she can return, Flan learns that her sister, Molly, has begun to show signs of the crippling genetic disease that slowly killed their mother.
As their close-knit circle of friends struggles with Molly’s diagnosis, Flannery must grapple with what her future will hold: an ambitious life of love and the pursuit of scientific discovery in West Africa, or the pull of a life surrounded by old friends, the comfort of an old flame, family obligations, and the home she’s always known. But she is not the only one wrestling with uncertainty. Since their college days, each of her friends has faced unexpected challenges that make them reevaluate the lives they’d always planned for themselves.
A mesmerizing debut from an exciting young writer, Migratory Animals is a moving, thought-provoking novel, told from shifting viewpoints, about the meaning of home and what we owe each other—and ourselves.
About the Author
Born and raised in Abilene, Texas, Mary Helen Specht has a B.A. in English from Rice University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College, where she won the department’s fiction award. Her writing has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and has appeared in numerous publications, including: The New York Times; The Colorado Review; Prairie Schooner; Michigan Quarterly Review; The Southwest Review; Florida Review; Southwestern American Literature; World Literature Today; Blue Mesa; Hunger Mountain; Bookslut; The Texas Observer; and Night Train, where she won the Richard Yates Short Story Award.
A past Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow, Specht teaches creative writing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.
Her first novel, Migratory Animals, will be published by Harper Perennial on January 20, 2015.
As I mentioned, I was originally interested in this book because of the gorgeous cover. I was completely sucked into the blue birds on the plain white background. Then I read the synopsis and I thought the book would be heartbreaking, but also very interesting. It definitely played with my emotions, right from the beginning.
The story moves back and forth from present day to the past when Flannery’s group of friends originally met one another. We get to watch the friendship between this group develop and are also able to understand why some of the dynamics of the group have evolved into the way they are.
I was excited when I found out that each chapter was from different characters perspectives, which I always love. This helped us to understand each character and why they acted the way they do when they come together with everyone in the group. It helps you figure out their thinking and justifies some of their actions. Although you do get to hear the different sides of the story, you don’t always get the complete story, and so want to keep reading in order to complete the picture.
Each of the characters has their own issue in life and come to realize that life did not turn out the way they though it was. I was really expecting to fall in love with Flannery, but I found it difficult to like her. I felt she was very cold and distant and like she was constantly building walls in order to keep everyone else out. I can understand why she was doing this- since she lost her mother to the same illness that is plaguing her sister, and because she is going to go back to Africa to be with her fiancee, but I still felt like she was very cold.
This book really shows the differences in everyone’s lives and shows you that life doesn’t always turn out the way you thought it would. It was interesting to be a witness to the lives of Alyce, Molly and Santiago. It was hard to watch Molly live with Huntington’s and to watch each of her friends continue with their own lives but also realize that one of their good friends was dying.
Overall, I liked this book- it was a good read. I give this book:
because I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I really really wanted to. I felt bad for Molly, but only because she was living with an incurable disease. The writing was good, but the characters needed some work.
Thank you to