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Fragile Beasts

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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  1,227 ratings  ·  210 reviews
When their hard-drinking, but loving, father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: leaving their Pennsylvania hometown for an uncertain life in Arizona with the mother who ran out on them years ago. But in a strange twist of fate, their town’s matriarch, an eccentric, wealthy old woman whose family once owned the county coal m ...more
Hardcover, 401 pages
Published March 23rd 2010 by Shaye Areheart Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,397)
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Amanda
When I read Tawni O'Dell's Coal Run a few years ago, it became an instant favorite. So I was certain that I would love Fragile Beasts. I hate it when I'm wrong. Three stars is probably a little generous. However, parts of it were compelling so I can't quite give it two stars. I guess I'll just settle on 2 1/2.

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
...more
Deb Mj
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 ...more
Jennifer Lane
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
...more
Sandy
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.

What fabulous characters! 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
...more
Maria
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 ...more
Renee
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 ...more
Amy F
This book started out good, but it was a slow read. At about 70% done, I realized the characters were so thinly drawn I did not give a good crap what happened to them, and I stopped. The changing narrators was jarring, the mother/sister characters were a caricature, and the "twist" with Klint was a giant *eyeroll*
Tracings
Yes, I'm lonesome for Western PA, and I find it comforting to read authors who understand the PA landscape. Yes, I know this is an Oprah kind of book (after all, O'Dell's BACK ROADS was an Oprah Book Club selection.) 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. PA. Somewhat amazing that my husband also enjoyed this one, though he found it difficult to suspend h ...more
Dana
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: an ever-tilting balance between tragedy and humour. The adolescent Kyle is extremely convincing in his behaviour and way of thinking. Most endearing, too. But I particularly enjoyed the banter between Candace Jack and Luis. Her quick comebacks and Luis' no-n ...more
Paula
Of all things, Tawni O'Dell is from Indiana, PA, which makes her ok in my book to start with. Recommended by a friend, I loved this book so much I rushed out to the library for "Back Roads" and "Coal Run"! But back to "Fragile Beasts." Tawni deals with consistent locale (western PA coal mining towns) and themes (adversity, becoming an adult) through all of her books and, into that mix, adds well-drawn characters. In "Fragile Beasts," two high school boys are taken in by a wealthy eccentric and t ...more
Kay
I didn't like this book as well as the first book I read of hers, "Coal Run". Coal Run was a powerful and touching book about coal miners. So I had really high expectations here and this book didn't do much for me. I didn't think her young men characters of Klint and Kyle were that believable as young men. And I didn't like that the mom was so evil with no redeeming qualities. It was not believable to me that a woman would hold on to a love affair when she was 20 for over 50 years. All in all th ...more
Kim
Good story but didn't care for the whole bullfighting aspect.
Nicole
I really enjoyed this book. It's a story of 2 teenage boys. One is a baseball superstar, Klint and the other is a devoted, kind boy, Kyle. Their father is a drunk, but really a good and kind father. Unfortunately on night in a drunken state he drives off a cliff and is killed instantly. The boy's mother who lives in Arizona and left the boys 2 years earlier seems to be their only choice left. One of the boys friends asks her rich aunt if they could live with her. They end up living with her and ...more
Deneen
Despite other reviews, this was by far my favorite book by Tawni O'Dell, now a favorite author of mine. Without spoilers, this was well written and thought provoking. When I first read the reviews and description of the book, I truly thought it would not be that good, but was delightfully surprised.

The description doesn't do the book justice. Wonderful novel, compelling characters, just a plain good read. For those who want a book that will touch your soul, this is the one.
Kimberly Cook
I have read Tawni O'Dell's other books but I will say that this is the best of the lot. Beautifully written and merging two cultures that seemingly have nothing in common; Pennsylvania coal country and Spain and the glory of bullfighting. I fell in love with the characters and the wonderfully clever way she twists the story to where it all comes to a tidy close. I love books that clearly end...and this one did in a very satisfying manner.
Sandy
This is a beautiful story about two orphan boys who are given a home by an elderly woman with no family. The characters are so well developed that I became personally attached to them. Although the storyline is originally about loss and loneliness, it moves to a very satisfying conclusion that will remain with me for some time.
Laura
I loved this book so much! I'm going to recommend it for book club. O'Dell does a wonderful job writing the settings of the book and the characters were unique, funny and poignant. Love it!
Barb
loved it, memorable characters, excellent story, hated it to end. and to think i randomly chose it from the "new books" shelf at the library!
Anne Michaud
Seriously one of the best books I've read this year.

I loved it so much, and now I miss Miss Jack and Kyle and Luis.

READ IT, PEOPLE.
Mich
Another great one by O'Dell. Baseball and bullfighting on a small PA town. Whodaknew. Read it
Aimee
I really enjoyed it.
Coleen
(3.5 stars) Like most of O'Dell's novels, this one is set in rural, coal-country Pennsylvania, but the reader also glimpses brief flashbacks of an alternating storyline in Spain, where bullfighting reigns. Brothers Klint and Kyle, estranged by their mother a few years earlier, and now orphaned due to an auto accident where their father is killed, have nowhere to go. Candace Jack, a local and wealthy spinster of sorts, offers to take them in. Kyle adapts pretty well to this and much of the story ...more
Glenda
When their hard-drinking, but loving, father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: leaving their Pennsylvania hometown for an uncertain life in Arizona with the mother who ran out on them years ago. But in a strange twist of fate, an eccentric, wealthy old woman whose family once owned the county coal mines, hears the boys’ story. Candace Jack doesn’t have an ounce of maternal instinct, yet for reasons she does not even understand herself, she is co ...more
Nelly
I liked this book a lot. I really enjoy O'Dell's writing style, particularly her narrators. They're always thoughtful and insightful, yet still sharp and witty. I especially liked Candace Jack. Even at the end of her life she "comes of age" in the sense that she breaks free of a self-made prison and learns who she really is. She's incredibly smart and funny and brings a lightness to a very heavy story while carrying tragedies of her own.

I also liked the portrayal of every-day things as "art," li
...more
Patricia
Warren County Public Libraries chose Tawnie O’Dell as their 2011 selected author for their Read Along the River Community Read Program. The author visit was October 21 at the Warren Public Library. She began her talk by thanking the representatives of the local libraries for their important work and their ability to continue on in spite of cutbacks in funding. The Public Library in her hometown of Indiana, PA, had recently closed due to lack of funding.

She refers to her books as her children. Fr
...more
Tilden
Enjoyed the writing, the story, and the characters vey much. Told in chapters bu Kyle, a 15 year old boy, Candace, a 76 year old single, rich woman who lost her one true love, Manuel, a famous bull fighter, gored by a bull, and Luis, a Spanish man who was part of Manuel's cuadrilla (assistants), who moved to PA with Candance when she retuned to the US after Manuel's death.

I loved Kyle. he's so vulnerable, a budding artist when it's hard to be an artist where he comes from, a working class coal m
...more
JoAnne Pulcino
This riveting novel takes you on a journey from the bruised hills of Pennsylvania to the flamboyant bull rings of colorful Spain – two diverse landscapes. The focus is on two blue collar teenage boys and a wealthy, eccentric matriarch whose family owned coal mines in the Pennsylvania hills. When the two boys’ hard drinking father dies in an accident, they face the bleak prospect of having to leave their home town to live with a mother who abandoned them. Their lives change drastically when the w ...more
Meghan
I would give this 3.5 stars.

Fragile Beasts by Tawni O’Dell was a great read. It begins with a harrowing bullfighting scene and then the reader is jerked back to 15 year-old Kyle in present-day Pennsylvania on the day his father dies in a drunken driving accident. It’s not clear initially how the two stories fit together, but O’Dell does a nice job of intertwining the narratives.

Klint and Kyle are teens who find themselves suddenly alone after their father’s untimely death. Their selfish mother
...more
Bethany Miller
When their father is killed in a drunk driving accident, brothers Kyle and Klint are both devastated. They find out that their father left them with almost nothing and that they will have to find a new place to live quickly. Most of the family friends in the small Pennsylvania coal mining town where they live are too poor to take on the responsibility of teenage mouths to feed. Then their mother surprises them both when she shows up for the funeral expecting them to move them back to Arizona wit ...more
Joanne Kelleher
The title of this book might prevent you from giving it a chance, but I say, "Go ahead, try it!" All but one of the ladies in my book club really liked it. We all get what the "fragile" in the title means; I'm not giving anything away by saying that many of the characters have had a rough go of it. At any rate, It was a different kind of story that featured unlikely characters being "thrown" together against a backdrop of bullfighting and baseball. (I hope I didn't talk you out of it!)
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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 pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. Tawni's screen adaptation of Back Roads is currently in development to be made into a film with Adrian Lyne set to direct. Her work has been translated into 15 languages and been published in over 30 countri ...more
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“I've decided that the worst part of loneliness isn't being alone. It's being forgotten.” 4 likes
“Capitalism is based on the concept that in order for someone to succeed, someone else has to suffer.” 2 likes
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