Susan's Reviews > The God of Animals

The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle
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's review
Dec 27, 11

bookshelves: favorites, fiction, young-adult
Read in November, 2011

*(this review may contain spoiler)

I read this book awhile ago and it had such a deep emotional impact on me that I didn't want to read anything else for awhile, but just wanted to let the story settle and take root in me. It's such a sad, beautifully written story with real, complex characters. I cherish this book both from the perspective of a horse lover and as a fan of good writing. I appreciated 12-year old Alice Winston as a narrator (she is a tough, sharp-tongued, funny, perceptive, but also very vulnerable and sympathetic) and the people that populate her world are complicated and surprising. Their strengths and flaws, blindnesses and awareness, are revealed in layers; seeing the world through Alice's eyes, I was continually surprised to learn things about family members, friends, boarders at her father's riding stable. There are so many painful secrets kept by the characters in this story, both secrets that Alice keeps or lies about to protect herself or others as well as secrets that are revealed to her by or about others. And, like in real life, people can't be easily categorized into "good" or "bad."
I loved the writing about the horses, the detail of smallest movement and the physicality, their ways, their body language (though they can't speak, they communicate) Aryn Kyle devoted many scenes to the spirited mare, the young stallion and the palomino, so that I felt like I knew them and was emotionally invested (and also very heartbroken by the end). I was especially enthralled by her descriptions of Alice riding the mare at the horse show. Kyle is a master of showing rather than telling through subtle body language or mannerisms of both humans and horses.
I just saw the Disney movie, "The War Horse," and finally felt compelled to write a review about this book in contrast. Though I liked the feel goodness of the movie, it was ultimately very Disney...an inspiring, somewhat sentimental tale, about unwavering hope and perseverance through extreme hardship. Kyle's story, in contrast, is as anti-Disney as it gets. I almost couldn't handle it. Wished for a little more of the Happy because I got so attached to the people and the horses; I was rooting for them and their dreams. But what she's written seems uncompromising (though harsh) and closer to the truth to me. It's been a long time since any book has haunted my imagination and heart as "The God of Animals" has.
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Quotes Susan Liked

Aryn Kyle
“This is the truth about things: If you take something that isn't yours, it will never belong to you. You can try to hold on to it, but somehow, it will slip through your fingers. If something wasn't meant to be yours, it won't be. No matter what you do to keep it, you will lose it.”
Aryn Kyle, The God of Animals

Aryn Kyle
“But the places we come from don't leave us as easily as we leave them.”
Aryn Kyle, The God of Animals


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