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Fragile Beasts

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  1,653 Ratings  ·  274 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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Aug 01, 2013 Amanda rated it it was ok
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
Jennifer Lane
Nov 14, 2010 Jennifer Lane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 24, 2014 Sandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Deb Mj
Jan 13, 2014 Deb Mj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 07, 2013 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy F
Dec 05, 2013 Amy F rated it did not like it
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*
Jun 19, 2010 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Diane Groves
Sep 26, 2016 Diane Groves rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book set in Western PA coal mining country featuring bull fighting? Crazy, huh. But it was a wonderful story about 2 teenage boys and a pack of family troubles. The author fleshed out all the characters so well that it really pulled me into the story where I was so anxious that everything would turn out well for them all.
Aug 20, 2010 Tracings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
Jun 14, 2010 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2012 Dana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 15, 2014 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kimberly Cook
Aug 24, 2011 Kimberly Cook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 12, 2010 Deneen rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 21, 2016 Dorothy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book. It felt like a surprise and an old friend at the same time. The characters were wonderful and the author had a subtle sense of humor that showed up in some unexpected places. I didn't love the content of and reasons for the climax of the book and actually felt it was unnecessary in many ways, which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. But overall, it was a pleasure to read and will be a pleasure to think about and remember.
Mar 25, 2014 Sandy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 25, 2016 Tammy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow build but a great read. I empathised with the characters greatly. I enjoyed the story and am glad I pushed through the slow parts. I think I would reread it in a few years. looking forward to reading more of her books.
Anne Michaud
Jul 11, 2013 Anne Michaud rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Aug 16, 2010 Barb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Sep 02, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Mar 16, 2015 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story but didn't care for the whole bullfighting aspect.
Nov 10, 2015 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent story! I loved it
Feb 14, 2012 Aimee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed it.
Sep 22, 2014 Mich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great one by O'Dell. Baseball and bullfighting on a small PA town. Whodaknew. Read it
Kristina Rogers
Great book!! One of my favorites
Dec 03, 2016 Lois rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book pulls you into the story from the very beginning. The characters are intricate and woven together. The story moves between bullfighting in Spain and a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. O'Dell adds a thought provoking paragraph at the end of most chapters. It is a book you keep thinking about when you aren't reading it.
Oct 30, 2016 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There characters in this book are truly lovable and memorable. The tie in with bullfighting culture is very interesting. Kyle's coming of age tale is tender and sweet. Candace's views on American culture are quite funny at times. I hope to read more books by this author.
Dec 19, 2016 Mendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were so many layers to this story, the characters were all well developed, and each narrator had a definitive voice.
Jan 08, 2017 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Touching story that anyone would enjoy reading. I especially loved the ties to Spain and bullfighting.
Nov 21, 2016 Sher rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was not super memorable... Nothing like Back Roads or Coal Run.
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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.” 5 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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