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Fragile Beasts

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,973 ratings  ·  303 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
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by John Murray Publishers Ltd (first published March 23rd 2010)
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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,973 ratings  ·  303 reviews


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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
Sandy
Apr 14, 2014 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
...more
Deb Mj
Dec 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Maria
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jennifer Lane
Oct 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Renee
Jun 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Dana
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Dorothy
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Kimberly Cook
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Deneen
Jul 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sandy
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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!
Kristina Rogers
Great book!! One of my favorites
Anita
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story told from several different points of view. It toggles back an forth between present day, small town Pennsylvania coal country and 1959 Spain and bullfighting exploits. Both settings are fascinating and have revelations that surprise, while realistically telling the story of a an old, lonely, wealthy woman and two struggling teenage boys. It also begins with a great first sentence:
"Manuel Obrador knew that he was dead but understood he had not yet finished dying."
Ginger
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Paula
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Tracings
Aug 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Kay
Jun 15, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Diane Groves
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Tammy
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Cindy
Nov 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent story! I loved it
Barb
Aug 16, 2010 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!
Mich
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Another great one by O'Dell. Baseball and bullfighting on a small PA town. Whodaknew. Read it
Anne Michaud
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Kim
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Good story but didn't care for the whole bullfighting aspect.
Marian Stauffer
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
First, let me say that I love this author. Her books are generally set in the coal mining towns of Pennsylvania & although this one is also, she has added a whole different story about bullfighting in Spain. Candace Jack is from a rich family who owns coal mines in PA, who falls in love with a bullfighter when traveling through Spain. He is killed early on and Candace transports the bull that killed him to her acreage in the US. Here, she gives him and his progeny a place to live. Fifty year ...more
Jennifer
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this complicated, character driven novel about family, love, and forgiveness. I really like it when the ending of a story is not predictable and I like how the stories from Spain were woven in seamlessly without feeling like I was jumping in time all over the place. I would say this is a book for adult readers. There are several discussions of sex, suicide, abuse, and loss that I would not recommend for teens. If you read this let me know as I would love to talk about it with so ...more
Shabnam Gideon
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read this for a book club, and was skeptical of reading pure fiction, but found myself unable to put it down. Perhaps it was because we've been reading tons of dense nonfiction or historical fiction, but everyone in my group thought it was a page-turner. It is, but not in the adventure sort of way, more in the emotional drama sort of way. Themes that stood out: mortality, perceived strength vs. weakness, notions of family, self-awareness and self truth. Some thought the narrative was too obvio ...more
Matthew Russell
Mar 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This could have been two different novels, one with the same hardscrabble working class Pennsylvania background and similar characters as O'Dell's debut, Back Roads, and the other a romantic Spanish tragedy about an old lady that seems like it could have been written by a different author altogether. Somehow she makes this mashup work, and it's one of the most satisfying reads I've recently had. She splits the POV between 3 very unique characters (I mean unique from each other, not unlike people ...more
Alex Black
May 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-fiction
At this point, it's really just my fault for continuing to read her books. The juxtaposition of Spanish bullfighters with a tiny coal town in Pennsylvania was an interesting choice, but something that really didn't work for me. It felt jarring whenever they switched between the two, more like I was reading two different books. I did find myself enjoying the characters a little more in this one, but it was still a struggle to get through.
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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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