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The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  30 reviews
From the winner of the 2016 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction comes a tender and funny debut novel, set over one emotionally charged weekend at an animal sanctuary in western Kansas, where maternal, romantic, and community bonds are tested in the wake of an estranged daughter’s homecoming.

The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is in trouble.

It’s late 2016 when
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2020 by Simon & Schuster
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Becky Mandelbaum
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I can honestly say I've read this book more times than any other book I've ever read, and it still held my interest. Dogs! Love! Kansas! Many subconsciously generated references to cake, candy, and cookies! What more could you possibly want?
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am b Book Blogger for One N' Done Book Corner. This will be on e our Feb. 2020 books. Thanks Net Galley for the opportunity to read this.

This book is a Women's Literary Fiction book that takes place in Kansas.

I have lived in rural Western Kansas, so I completely relate to the 'openness' nothing like it, especially with the wheat fields.

I am a animal lover, and I completely see myself running a animal sanctuary, especially in western Kansas. But that is about all I can understand about this
Glenna Pritchett
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
** Thank you, NetGalley and Simon Schuster, for providing me with an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. **

Such a sweet story of love for animals, family, hurt, and forgiveness! I was drawn into Mona and Ariel’s story so deeply that I was moved to tears a couple of times. It’s a feel-good story, one that is ideal to put into the reading pile between darker books – a refreshing palate-cleanser, if you will.

I highlighted a number of lovely passages that I would love
Jessica (BlogEared Books)
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-want
4 Stars.

Thank you to #netgalley #beckymandelbaum and #simonandschuster for the complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed this book and it actually spoke to me on a lot of levels. I grew up an only child with a single mom who loved(s) animals. To the point where I too questioned if my mother loved the animals more than I and the older I got, I loved animals but also resented them a little. Just as Ariel escaped to college and a different life- I did the same. The only big
Shannie Sunshine
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you, NetGalley and Simon Schuster for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for my honest review.

The cover is what initially drew me to this book because it is so pretty by itself but when I read the title, I knew I would have to request this one. :) And I am going to say that this was a book that was 100% back and forth for me. At times, I thought it was going to be 5 stars and at other times, it was all the way down to two stars. In fact, until the last ten pages, it was going to
Diane Secchiaroli
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Simon Schuster and Netgalley for a preview of this novel. This novel is about the relationship between a mother and daughter and the love of animals. Mona and Ariel have been estranged for 6 years. When Ariel discovers that the sanctuary has had problems with an arsonist and that Mona has put the sanctuary up for sale she decides to go home to see if she can help. Her visit is not welcome by her mother or Gideon (a former boyfriend). Ariel feels that her mother loved the animals more ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Thanks to Becky Mandelbaum and Netgalley for providing me with a digital advance copy of this novel. This is a solid debut novel and it succeeds in many ways. Mandelbaum’s writing is quite good. I would recommend this novel to fans of literary fiction and especially to animal lovers. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

While I enjoyed this novel, a couple of things kept me from loving it. First, I thought the political angle was a bit too heavy-handed (and I say that as someone
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was not disappointed with this story. It is centered on the love of animals, family and the land that can sometimes make us blind to all else and cause family fractures. The author portrayed all of this in an engaging manner. Mona and her daughter Ariel haven't seen each other in 6 years. When Ariel reads the animal sanctuary her mother owns is going bankrupt she decides to return home to try and patch things up. The drama heats up and we see just how dysfunctional both women are, especially ...more
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had the privilege of reading this book recently, and I'm recommending it to all of my friends. The author has an amazing ability to capture many different kinds of love--for humans, animals, and the land--and her prose is the best kind of funny, warm, and insightful. I was fully invested in these characters and couldn't stop reading. I would follow this writer anywhere!
Tracy Susko
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenn Locke
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
I fell in love with The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals.

The story is anchored in the 2016 post-election unrest, and the emotional cracks are echoed in the characters personal lives. Six years earlier, Ariel ran away from everything — her boyfriend, her mother, and her home at Bright Side Sanctuary. And she never went back. But now the Sanctuary has been the target of anti-Semitic hate crimes and her mother has decided to sell. Ariel knows she has to go home. She needs to face those she left
Madhuri Palaji
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals by Becky Mandelbaum is a literary fiction. The story is about The Bright Side Sanctuary in St Clare run by Mona. The story has a wonderful way of bringing a buried sensible side of the reader. Mona and her daughter Ariel whose relationship is ruined after Ariel decides to leave the sanctuary six years ago, get a second chance to fix the damage.

Mona's love for animals makes my heart ache. Ariel who is living a different life with Dex in Lawrence, comes back
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
3.5 stars

Skeletons in the closet come out and play!

Years ago, Ariel left her small town and animal obsessed mother in order to go to college and pursue her dreams. However, in order for her to leave and find herself, she hurt people, people she loved, along the way. Now, several years later, a traumatic event makes Ariel want to return to her small town home to right some wrongs. Good thing that animals don't hold grudges!

This book covers one weekend where Ariel's past and present come
Abby Suzanne
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals. If you're a dog lover, there's not much to dislike about this book! It's about dogs, there are two semi-unpleasant male characters whose transformations in the presence of dogs makes them mildly enjoyable; it's also about family reconciliation, which is nice, but not nearly as entertaining as the dogs were in this one. I was expecting Bright Side to end much differently than it did, but I felt like the ending was really quite perfect! ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to #netgalley and #simon & Schuster for giving me this ARC for my honest review.

I originally chose this book because it was about animals and specifically it takes place at an animal sanctuary which I’m an avid believer in.

The story starts with a mother/daughter relationship. The daughter wants to leave to go to a college that she gets a full “ride” to and mom doesn’t want her to go so far away, wanting her to go to the local college.. Each have their own reasons but neither will
Diane Payne
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Refreshing novel. Just what I needed for this snowy weekend. Timely novel that begins after the 2016 election, a time when so many Americans felt not only defeated, but fatigued, and a woman can not make payments to keep her animal sanctuary running. After her daughter reads about a fire at the sanctuary, the daughter returns home after six years, hoping to reconnect with her mother and the animals, and perhaps with a former lover, and to disconnect with a current lover. Mandelbaum uses much ...more
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is one of the best books I have recently read. Taking place in Western Kansas, it tells the story of Mona, a mother who runs the Sanctuary, her daughter Ariel who left home to attend college in Lawrence, Kansas, her boyfriend Dex, her boyfriend from earlier years Gideon and his girlfriend Joy.
Becky Mandelbaum does an amazing job of letting the reader see each characters strengths and weaknesses. You come to like each one of them.
Becky Mandelbaum....if you
Anna Hurst
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. I've been struggling to stay engrossed in a novel lately and this story had me completely absorbed from start to finish. The first few chapters help lay the political landscape -- things are tense. It shouldn't feel comfortable. Setting that scene allows us to better understand the characters and their respective actions, reactions, and interactions. I love Becky's sense of humor and her attention to detail. One sentence will make you laugh out loud and the next will have you ...more
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Stansel
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
What an enjoyable novel. Focused on the people directly and indirectly involved with a small animal sanctuary in rural West Kansas, we follow them each through the time from the 2016 election forward as well as their past through flashbacks. The characters, including the Bright Side sanctuart are vivid and. complex. All relatable and their complicated relationships varied and interesting. I wasn't sure what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised.

Full disclosure- I received a copy of the
Stefanie Bevins
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I did not care for the political agenda that was littered throughout the book and do not feel it had any added value. With that being said, I enjoyed the story and Ariel and Mona were relatable as characters. I am a volunteer with a farm animal sanctuary and also with a dog rescue so I appreciated reading a book that had those aspects as a main theme. Becky Mandelbaum is a talented writer. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes animals and reading ...more
Gail Herrmann
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Debut book by this author and I will definitely be interested in more! As a midwesterner and an animal lover, the setting couldn't have been better. A story of an estranged Mother and Daughter, misunderstanding and hurt. A current romantic relationship and a relationship from the past Reconciliation and forgiveness. A feel good story! Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Probably like most readers of this one, I'm an animal lover and enjoyed this overall, The beginning seemed politically overhanded but I understood it as a partial setup for the story. The primary characters weren't exactly likeable all the time (although they evolved), but the animals were and I enjoy their presence a great deal. The author writes well and I look forward to more from her.

Thanks very much for the ARC for review!!
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals. I practically read it in one night. As an avid animal lover, I enjoyed the descriptions and stories of each of the animals, especially Hippo! I would love to read more books by this author, Becky Mandelbaum. It was wonderful!! Thank you to NetGalley and Publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and S&S for the ARC. This was a lovely story about where you go to find yourself and to come to terms with who you are. Or that it's okay to still figure it out. There's no happy endings in life just journeys with ups and downs and making sure that we have people with us for all of them. What home really means. And how animals, esp dogs, are the greatest healers on Earth.
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC. While the book was well written and had many cute descriptions of the animals kept at the sanctuary, it definitely left a few things open-ended. I prefer books that wrap everything up, especially if they are not going to have a series follow them. Also, the character of Buddy seemed very unnecessary. Overall, a good book, but not one I'd go back to read again.
Kelley Kirby
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. It started a bit slow and I craved more in the end. It was a great book that I will definitely recommend!
Good Book Fairy
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-read
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. The characters are well developed and the story will keep you turning the pages. Read it- you will be glad you did.
Melanie Deters
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! Such a heartwarming story between a daughter and her mother. I love the Kansas setting. It is beautifully written - full of humor and emotion.
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Becky Mandelbaum is the author of THE BRIGHT SIDE SANCTUARY FOR ANIMALS, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster on August 4, 2020. She is also the author of BAD KANSAS, which received the 2016 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Originally from Kansas, she currently lives in Washington State.