Read Fragile Beasts by Tawni O'Dell Online

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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 mWhen 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 mines, hears the boys’ story. Candace Jack doesn’t have an ounce of maternal instinct, yet for reasons she does not even understand herself, she is compelled to offer them a home.Suddenly, the two boys go from living in a small, run-down house on a gravel road to a stately mansion filled with sumptuous furnishings and beautiful artwork—artwork that’s predominantly centered, oddly, on bullfighting. And then there’s Miss Jack’s real-life bull: Ventisco—a regal, hulking, jet-black beast who roams the land she owns with fiery impudence.Kyle adjusts more easily to the transition. A budding artist, he finds a kindred spirit in Miss Jack. But local baseball hero Klint refuses to warm up to his new benefactress and instead throws himself into his game with a fierceness that troubles his little brother. Klint is not just grieving his father’s death; he’s carrying a terrible secret that he has never revealed to anyone. Unbeknownst to the world, Candace Jack has a secret too—a tragic, passionate past in Spain that the boys’ presence threatens to reveal as she finds herself caring more for them than she ever believed possible.From the muted, bruised hills of Pennsylvania coal country to the colorful, flamboyant bull rings of southern Spain, Tawni O’Dell takes us on a riveting journey not only between two completely different lands, but also between seemingly incompatible souls, casting us under her narrative spell in which characters and places are rendered with fragile tenderness....

Title : Fragile Beasts
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780719556791
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Fragile Beasts Reviews

  • Amanda
    2019-03-11 10:01

    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 where she makes her home. Her obsession for all things Spanish begins as so many obsessions do: with a loss. The love of her life, a Spanish bullfighter, is killed in the ring, leaving Candace to forever mourn what could have been. Understandably, the town sees her as the crazy old spinster lady that nobody ever sees--although, in lieu of cats, she keeps a bull. That's right. A bull. She bought the bull that killed her lover and has always kept one bull from each generation of his progeny. So, we have an old woman nearing the end of a life created from walling herself off from her own emotions and from other people. We've been here before. There's only one thing to do: create a plot device by which she is forced to interact with a young person who is damaged himself/herself and through this unlikely pairing, both will be forever changed. In this case, Candace agrees to take in two teenage boys who have recently lost their father in a drunk driving accident. Their mother left years ago and is clearly an unfit parent, even though she returns to collect the boys and move them to Arizona. Candace reluctantly agrees to take the boys in mainly to spite the mother, to whom she takes an instant dislike. The rest of the novel follows the uneasy relationship between the two boys, Kyle and Klint, who are coping with the death of their father, and Candace, a woman whose motherly instincts are non-existent. The main issue with the book is that there is simply too much going on. There are two stories, one set in the past during Candace's experiences in Spain and one in the present. The present day story is narrated from 3 points of view: Candace, Kyle (the sensitive, more emotionally open boy), and her Spanish butler/friend, Luis. However, the "voice" between these three perspectives isn't varied enough. Kyle in particular seems inauthentic as his chapters don't always read like that of a young teenager. Sure, he's mature for his age, but I've never known a teenager to be that insightful. Candace Jack is exactly what one would expect of a wealthy older woman--always concerned with the proper way of dressing, speaking, eating, behaving, etc. If she had been more salty and cantankerous it would have given the novel more energy and perhaps more suspense. She has flashes of humor, but they're sparse. These first person points of view also lead to a lot of telling and not showing. Most of the chapters are presented as internal dialogue in which the character reflects on the progress being made in forming the tentative bonds that may eventually bring them together as a family. Instead of reflections, I would have preferred to see more in the moment interactions between the characters. The Luis chapters serve primarily to explain what happened in Candace's life decades ago.Despite its predictability and its flaws, there are some compelling moments, some witty dialogue, and I admire O'Dell's refusal to shy away from the dark corners of life. For me, the back story of Candace and the bullfighter are the most interesting, as are Luis's stories about being a boy in Spain. These stories made me wish an entire novel had been dedicated to Candace's youth. As it is, the competing storylines never seem to get the breathing room they need to come alive.Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder and at Shelf Inflicted

  • Jennifer Lane
    2019-03-19 16:53

    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 another man. An even bigger problem is that Kyle's father just inadvertently killed himself in a drunk-driving accident.It's quite a dilemma about where Kyle and Klint will live after their father's funeral. Their dad was a blue-collar drunk, but he looks like "Parent of the Year" compared to their cruel, cold mother. Enter the wealthy, childless Candace Jack. Miss Jack agrees to take in the boys on, mostly to spite her nephew (the owner of the local coal company) but also to protect the boys from their mother.Candace Jack has an intricate history of her own, and her family rivals the Hayes for putting the fun in dysfunction. She has a Spaniard, Luis, living with her, and decorates her large home in the brilliant colors and bullfighting paintings of Spain. It turns out that Candace had loved one of Spain’s most artistic torreos, Manuel Obrador. His death in the bullfighting ring in 1959 left her bereft, and she’s never recovered. But she did bring back to Pennsylvania the bull that killed Manuel, and the bull’s grandson now lives on her estate.I adore the character of Kyle. He’s one of the sweetest teenage boys I’ve ever met. He’s inquisitive, artistic, empathic, and kind, but he still maintains the voracious appetite and ogling of girls characteristic of his age and gender. Klint, on the other hand, is not so sweet. He’s morose and haunted, harboring a life-threatening secret.Tawni O’Dell is a master of metaphor. Here are some of my favorites:“All three of the (bulls) are massive coal-black monsters with sharply pointed upturned white horns that look like they’d slide through a grown man’s chest as easily as a power drill through butter” (p. 137)“Bert stands nearby, impeccably and elegantly groomed, holding the dog’s gaudy neon pink, fur-lined, jewel-encrusted carrier coolly at his side, looking like some homophobic screenwriter’s idea of a gay doctor who makes house calls” (p. 203)“…time passes more slowly at the beginning and ends of our lives. As children time is thick and sweet like syrup yet we can’t wait to get older. We enter adulthood and time escapes like water through an open hand. Then it slows again in the twilight years, becoming the congealed consistency of fat skimmed off a stewed chicken, and we have nothing left but to wait for death” (p. 288)I also loved the author’s exploration of artists, whether they be bullfighters, painters, or baseball players. “An artist doesn’t create in order to get money, or fame, or acceptance, or love. It’s a force inside him, something he must do or his soul will shrivel up and die” (p. 142)I’m a former college athlete and Ms. O'Dell totally nailed what happens to athletes who are depressed or suffering some sort of malaise:“An accountant can be down in the dumps and still add up his daily figures. A teacher can be concerned about her sick mother and still assign chapters for her students to read. A truck driver can be angry at his spouse and still cover all the miles on his route. But an artist’s self is his work. If something is wrong with one, the other falls into decay. I imagine it’s the same for an athlete and his performance” (p. 152).My only criticism is that the plot sagged a bit at the end of the second act. While I loved Candace and Luis, I didn’t find their points of view as appealing as Kyle’s.Brilliant characterization, gripping emotions, a plot with depth and heart – this novel is a must read.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-18 11:10

    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 and then their dad dies in a drunk driving accident; Luis, a Spaniard who transported himself to the coal country of Pennsylvania along with the majestic bull who killed his matador and Luis's best friend (as well as Candace's lover) Manuel. I was enthralled with all of them, as well as some great minor characters.The story was alternately told by Kyle, Candace and Luis and alternated in time and place between current day Pennsylvania and the bullrings of Spain over 50 years ago. As the story unfolds, the characters open their past and their hearts in many ways. I surprisingly loved this story.

  • Deb Mj
    2019-03-13 16:19

    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 death during a bullfight. The book explores the developing relationship between the boys and the woman and her motley staff. The characters are richly drawn, the dialogue is wonderful (especially Candace's comments to the boys' mother), and the book elicits wonderful emotions on all sides of the spectrum. There are references to bullfighting, so if you're offended by that practice, you may take issue with those portions of the book. I loved it and would wholeheartedly recommend it. I'll definitely seek out more of the author's work.

  • Maria
    2019-02-16 08:58

    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 woman. It's about baseball (who knew I'd like a book about baseball), about brothers and the love they have (who knew that would appeal to me, too), and about the love and respect one can have for an animal that isn't even a pet. The main narrator--a young boy named Kyle--probably has wisdom beyond his years, and isn't likely to have noticed all that he does (were he a REAL 15 year old boy, rather than a fictitious one), but O'Dell develops his character to offer an honest appraisal of life with a willingness to be vulnerable and forgiving.

  • Renee
    2019-03-06 17:05

    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 read the author's book "Back Roads" years ago, and at the time, remember thinking this writer is special.

  • Tracings
    2019-02-26 11:59

    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 his belief because the baseball scenes were "totally inaccurate." Me, I didn't notice, caught up as I was in the interplay between engaging characters. I'm hoping the inaccuracy doesn't extend to the bull-fighting scenes, since I found the description of the sport to be eloquent and moving.

  • Paula
    2019-02-28 16:21

    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 the bonds they form are remarkable.... sort of a Caucasian version of "The Blindside." Would highly recommend to all ages and also feel that younger readers would find the material and themes compelling.

  • Dana
    2019-03-01 17:05

    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-nonsense attitude were brilliant. And what is remarkable about the relationships between the main characters is that they are brought together by "arrangement" rather than blood ties or marriage. The constant reshaping of each of the characters' journey, through their interaction, is masterful.

  • Kay
    2019-03-14 14:10

    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 this book just didn't do much for me.

  • Kimberly Cook
    2019-03-06 16:18

    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
    2019-02-26 11:54

    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.

  • Dorothy
    2019-03-03 10:19

    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.

  • Sandy
    2019-02-23 10:05

    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.

  • Diane Groves
    2019-02-20 09:12

    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
    2019-02-20 09:21

    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
    2019-03-09 10:01

    Excellent story! I loved it

  • Mich
    2019-03-07 15:15

    Another great one by O'Dell. Baseball and bullfighting on a small PA town. Whodaknew. Read it

  • Anne Michaud
    2019-02-18 10:01

    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.

  • Barb
    2019-03-07 10:18

    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!

  • Laura
    2019-02-18 09:12

    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
    2019-03-06 11:12

    Great book!! One of my favorites

  • Kim
    2019-03-08 10:20

    Good story but didn't care for the whole bullfighting aspect.

  • Aimee
    2019-02-16 11:12

    I really enjoyed it.

  • Shabnam Gideon
    2019-03-01 11:18

    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 obvious, and I can see that now, but I didn't mind it while reading.

  • Darlene
    2019-03-17 08:55

    This was my second reading of this book and I loved it just as much, if not more than the first time through. I was amazed at how much I had forgotten, and yet so many passages I remembered every detail of. It is a wonderful blend of generations learning from one another.

  • Anne
    2019-03-02 14:06

    I enjoyed this book. Almost a 5-star. I recommend it because of the diversity of the characters and a small snapshot of the culture of Spain. The dialogues are often humorous. All in all, a well-rounded story.

  • Marcia
    2019-02-21 09:07

    I was only into this book a few pages when I realized I had read it before but again I was intrigued with the story of this dysfunctional family. Enjoyed it the second time around as well!

  • Hawley
    2019-02-20 15:20

    Loved it!

  • Keri Chumbley
    2019-03-02 13:52

    This was very close to a 5 star for me - I loved the main characters and the tie in to Spain was very interesting.