JoAnne Pulcino's Reviews > Fragile Beasts

Fragile Beasts by Tawni O'Dell
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's review
Apr 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: adult-fiction, book-club-selection
Read in May, 2010

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 wealthy and reclusive matriarch offers them a home. This woman harbors secrets causing her to surround herself with all things Spanish, including a man Friday who is a gourmet cook (he’s an absolutely marvelous character). She has filled her home with wonderful paintings, but especially of bull fights and a particular bull fighter. Her fascination with Spain even includes a regal, jet black bull that runs freely over her land. Through their association, this damaged trio of the woman and the two boys are drawn into an emotional relationship that none expected as they grope their way toward healing through heated, generational clashes. This breathtaking book casts a spell in which the events and finely etched characters offer a fragile and poignant tenderness that can’t help but enchant.

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