Book Review: When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord

When We Were Animals
By Joshua Gaylord
Released 4/21/15
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones(out of 5 bones)

This book was definitely a page turner, but left me wanting more at the end.  A very interesting premise led me to choose this book, but I never really could get comfortable with it, if that makes sense.  I like books to challenge me, but this one was just a bit too odd for my liking (I lean more towards reality; things that could really happen.)

In this little town, a strange things happen to kids as they reach puberty.  They go breach.  Coinciding with full moons, at dark, teenagers are drawn from the comfort of their own beds to run wild for 3 nights, returning home bruised and many times much worse.  This is an accepted way of life, as everyone else draws their curtains, locks their doors, and doesn’t interfere.  And for the most part never really talks about it.

The story follows Lumen Fowler, described as a bit behind schedule, as she waits for her “time” to come.  She secretly hopes it never will, as she had been told happened to her mother.  Raised by her father, throughout the book Lumen tries to uncover what really happened about her mother, while dealing with all the normal teenage angst.  A time I know I never care to relive, on top of all the hormones, what-ifs, insecurities, Lumen also has to worry about going breach, or becoming an “animal” as this book is very appropriately titled.

I liked getting inside Lumen’s head, as she is very bright for her age and tries hard to stay on top of, if not in control of, all that is going on.  It took me back to those uncomfortable teenage years wondering what friendships were real, if that boy really liked me, and what my future holds.  She was a very realistic character most of the time.  The book switched back and forth between her life in the present as a wife and mother and to those teenage years, in hopes of explaining why she is who she is.

It was well written and like I said before, had me up turning pages, but just was overall odd and I could never decide if I liked it.  After sitting on it for a few days, which I do enjoy when I book stays with me, I decided it was worth my time and a nice break from the predictable, but nothing to rave about.  I would say to pick it up if you are up for a wild ride.  It did have me hanging on to the very end that included another weird twist – so predictable, it definitely was not!

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for allowing me to preview.

Book Description:

A small, quiet Midwestern town, which is unremarkable save for one fact: when the teenagers reach a certain age, they run wild.
When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn’t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen’s confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community’s darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident “breaches” during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.
Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community’s traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town’s past, the more we realize that Lumen’s memories are harboring secrets of their own.
A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland.



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