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Kept Animals

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  802 ratings  ·  162 reviews
A bold, riveting debut novel of desire, betrayal, and loss, centering on three teenage girls, a horse ranch, and the tragic accident that changes everything.

Rory Ramos is a dutiful teenager with a love of photography who works as a ranch hand at the stable her stepfather manages in Topanga Canyon, California, a dry, dusty place reliant on horses and hierarchies. There she
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 21st 2020 by Scribner
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Jan Obviously the horses kept on the ranch and stables are kept animals, yet people can be too, whether it is socially, economically, racially or by class…moreObviously the horses kept on the ranch and stables are kept animals, yet people can be too, whether it is socially, economically, racially or by class, employment, education, status, wealth, celebrity. (less)

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Average rating 3.72  · 
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4.5 rounded to 5 stars

I was the lucky winner of a copy of this novel through Goodreads giveaways. I’d like to thank Goodreads, Scribner publishing, and Ms. Kate Milliken for my copy. I saw the ratings averaged 3.76 of 5 so I was expecting a good, yet perhaps, forgettable story. I was wrong. I can’t stop thinking about this book. It grew and grew on me and eventually bloomed like a rose.

This is a slow simmering tale. The chapters alternate between Topanga Canyon, CA, in 1993 and Little Snake, WY,
Larry H
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour
4.5 stars.

Kept Animals , Kate Milliken's debut novel, is a powerful, gorgeously told story of desire, loss, secrets, and the toll we take on nature.

In 1993, 15-year-old Rory Ramos is living in Topanga Canyon, California, and working as a ranch hand at a stable her stepfather runs. She’s talented with horses but mostly rides for rich people, including wealthy twin siblings June and Wade. June, who is openly gay, takes an interest in Rory, who is struggling with her own sexuality, but often Ror
Erin Clemence
Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free, electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication date: April 21, 2020

“Kept Animals” is the first novel for Kate Milliken, who has made a name for herself in the short story and poetry circuit. Positives of this novel for me were, obviously, the inclusion of horses, stables, riding and all things equestrian. The horse on the cover was, to be honest, the reason I picked this book. It is evide
Lindsay Sproul
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review is based on the advanced uncorrected proof.

This book is unbelievably captivating throughout--it's very quiet, there's so much that happens, and nearly all of it feels surprising and inevitable at the same time. The novel, while narrated by her daughter years later, is centered around Rory's story, and at first I found Rory difficult to get to know. However, as the novel progresses, we realize as readers that her daughter also feels this way about her, and I love the way this mirror
Cortney LaScola Hornyak -  The Bookworm Myrtle Beach
3.5 stars rounded down

It was good book, it was just a little slow and I kept forgetting who each character was who. I don't know why? But none of the names stuck with me. I also think the POV from Rory's grown daughter didn't add anything to the story.

Still a good book with a solid story
Denice Langley
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very novel approach to the telling of a life's story. Three girls growing into young women as their worlds circle each other but seldom touch. The main story revolves around a horse ranch and the many different personalities that interact with each other. As circumstances always do, the young women are forced to change how they see themselves and each other. Kate Milliken has written an entertaining story that will have you hoping for more happiness and less drama. Definitely worth your readin ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq
I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

This was really good! I was intrigued by this book from the outset — the early ‘90s California setting, the complicated relationship between three girls (Rory, June, and Vivian), and the mystery of what happened one fateful night.

And this book did not disappoint. The story flips between the past and the present, the past through various different characters and the present through Charlie, Rory’s daugh
Sarah Ames-Foley
The thing about trauma is that even after it is over, it is still happening. It is a memory in motion, forever present.

disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own. Quotes have been taken from the advanced copy and are subject to change upon publication.

This review can also be found on my blog.

This absolutely devastated me. Kate Milliken has been without a doubt added to
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book just isn't for me. I did read it all the way through since Scribner was kind enough to send me an ARC. Unfortunately, the only thing I liked about it was the horses. The people were jerks to each other for the most part and it was just a depressing train wreck. I see others are raving about this debut and I am glad they enjoyed it. Agree or disagree, I hope we can still be book friends.

Thank you to Scribner for a paperback ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Laura • lauralovestoread
Such a wonderful debut that took me by surprise. I have always enjoyed a generational story that spans over a dual timeline. In this case, mid 90s and 2010, and I especially loved that it included a horse ranch at the heart of the story for three young women.⁣⁣

*thank you Scribner for the gifted copy. All opinions are my own
Richard Becker
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story captivated me from the start! Great read! I was honestly sad to get to the end!
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
KEPT ANIMALS is a beautiful, unexpected piece of art. Yes, you will get a lot more enjoyment out of it if you are a horse person, but the story of finding yourself, California in the 90s, and shocking revelations is worth the price of admission. It had a slow start, but the second half of the book really grabbed me and I couldn't put it down. The ending will be hard to read for many, and is shocking in a way that the rest of the book is not at all, but I think the author's choices for her story ...more
Alex Jiménez
i think all fiction should be like this, actually

edit 6/2/2020: hi, i very recently ended my semester-long tenure covering literature at the daily californian, and i could not have asked for a better book to finish up an amazing and bookish whirlwind of a spring, tumultuous as the world is at the moment. you can read my full review here if you're interested! i have to say it is probably my favorite out of the 12 i wrote in total between january and may. excerpt:

"Rory’s story, backed by a chorus
Miya (struggling with pain, keeping reviews short)
90s, California, horses, coming of age yes yes yes! I really enjoyed this read. I didn't put it down. I would love to see this as a film. The topics of trauma, love, and sexuality are so important for so many of us to feel seen. One I will share with other book lovers. ...more
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Independent films have a level of emotional depth that I do not find in mainstream movies. I fell in love with them at a small, co-op theater in a college town I used to call home. I saw them frequently- sometimes with friends, mostly alone. The town even hosted a very well known film festival once a year, but the theater has since closed and I now live far away. 

I remember how I'd sit watching an independent film in a constant level of low-grade discomfort and yet leave glowing. Independent fil
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: review
Enjoyed the experience of this coming of age novel but the ending was totally jarring. A fantastic main character but fuzzy secondary characters.
Leah M
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. I am voluntarily providing my honest opinion.

While I don't know much about horses, the story was interesting and engaging. The characters were well-rounded, and despite their flaws, it is easy to empathize with and even like most of the characters.

My biggest issue was the pacing. In the beginning, the story was a bit slow-moving, although this resolved itself later in the book. The family dysfunction, tragedy, struggles involving coming to terms
Shelly D
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a slow burn. It's right up my alley (f/f, coming of age, 90s fiction). At first, I felt very removed from Rory, but then, as I read on, I realized how intentional that was. Her daughter Charlie also grew up completely removed. I couldn't see at first the reason for Charlie narrating the novel, but as everything came together, I thought it was brilliant. I highly recommend this one! ...more
Jennifer M.
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it
While I was originally looking forward to Kept Animals, about 45% of the way through, I realized I wasn't interested in or connecting with any of the characters, or even the story. There were a few things that triggered me regarding animal cruelty. And that for me should have been a hard stop, but I did keep reading, because this books is so well written. However, even though I made it all the way through, I still didn't like it.

Kept Animals comes out 4.21.2020.

2.5/5 Stars
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
I thought this book was a hot mess. Definitely reads like a first novel. Seemed like YA, but I think it’s being marketed for adults. Back and forth between the past and present works until the very end when it seems to fall apart. Hated the characters. I think two stars is generous.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I finished this two weeks ago and still can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll put a full review later but that’s all I’ve got for now
Jul 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads
The story is interesting, if a bit slow-paced. A loss of innocence and coming-of-age novel, it examines issues of abandonment, family dysfunction, sexual assault, friendships, and sexuality. These heavy topics are woven realistically and skillfully throughout the plot to create a fascinating look at how different acts in the past effect the present and the future.

I also just loved how this story came together in the end. Don’t worry! I won’t give away any spoilers. But this book gives a perfect
Aug 16, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I won an ARC of this one in a Goodreads giveaway. While the horses were nice, that was about it.

The characters are jerks. The story is convoluted. The timeline's not well done. It's clearly a debut novel and it seems as though this one is being seriously rushed. Either the editor has a *serious* case of pandemic brain, or this thing wasn't edited at all before it was slapped in ARC format and rushed out. Whatever the case, this marketing campaign is circling the drain. Eesh.
Kathleen Gray
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to know what to write about this dual time line coming of age story of mothers, daughters, horses, and betrayal except that it's an amazing read. You know going in that there's going to be a horrible fire in 1993 but not why or how. Rory, fifteen at the time, helps her stepfather Gus at the barn and takes photos in her spare time until she was wrapped into the world of rich kids, June, Wade, and Vivian. Her mother Mona is never really present. Vivian lives with her mother Sara and litt ...more
Anne Wolfe
Jul 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Sad to only rate this book at 3 Stars. It could have been so much better if it had been slightly less ambitious in including so many different characters, time shifts, drugs, alcohol, horses, taxidermy, animal cruelty, racism, rich versus poor, immigration, abuse, growing up, homosexuality. Did I forget anything? Probably.

Set in two different time periods and locations, this is the story of Rory in 1993 and her daughter Charlie 22 years later. Rory has an uncaring mother and a loving stepfather.
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher. Since it is not out yet I cannot quote anything but I want to encourage you to read it!

Set in two time periods- 1993 & 2015, it follows Rory as she navigates a few life changing months in the summer/fall of 1993. It is set around a horse stable that she and her step father work at, and the struggle between social classes, race and sexuality.

You follow how every moment, every decision that you make leads you to where you end up. That there
Aug 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My Review Of
By Author, Kate Milliken
Gifted & Published by {Partner} @Scribner
On Sale: 8/3/21 - Purchase Link in my Bio
The Author writes with words that are emotionally resonant to its readers. A coming of age novel where one is finding oneself and learning who they are and differentiating how others view them. Such powerful characters both good and bad, show how a child is raised can effect their emotional well being and feeling of wholeness. The relationships between family,
Geonn Cannon
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Glancing over other reviews, I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one confused by character names. I don't know what the issue is! I usually have no problem with much bigger casts, but with this one I felt like I needed a chart. Once I got past that, however, it was a beautiful story with loads of dark, sad stuff. Well worth checking out. ...more
Stephanie Abramski
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Had the opportunity to read this ARC and thoroughly enjoyed it! At first it was a little bit difficult for me to get into, but then it became very captivating. It is the story of three different girls coming to age and their struggles with their sexuality. Highly recommend!
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Kate Milliken is the author of the 2013 Iowa Short Fiction Award-winning collection of stories, If I’d Known You Were Coming. A graduate of the Bennington College Writing Seminars, she has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop. She lives in Northern California with her family. Kept Animals is her first novel.

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