O’Dell, Tawni Fragile Beasts
Random House/Doubleday/Ballantine 2010 401 25.00
978-0-307-35168-5 hs/adult VG
This epic saga covers about 50 years in the life of Candace Jack and her connections to Spain and Western Pennsylvania. Two orphaned teenage boys, Kyle and Klint, come into her life and give fulfillment to her later years. Candace Jack met and fell in love with a matador while visiting Spain as a young woman. She was at the bullring when he was killed in the bullfight. Returning to her family home near Pittsburgh, PA her entire life is consumed by her loss.
Late in her life, her niece pleads with her to take in two teenaged boys when their father dies. The boys want to stay in their hometown and not go with the mother who deserted the family several years ago. As Kyle, the younger one gets to know Miss Jack and her servant Luis, he discovers a whole new world as she opens her heart to the past for the first time in years. Klint, on the other hand is withdrawing further into himself. Eventually the reader learns that he was abused by his mother and that is why he would rather die than go live with her.
This is a story of unreconnciled love, boys coming of age, and definitions of true love and family. The flashbacks and telling the story from multiple viewpoints point to a mature, sophisticated audience. There are also some sexual encounters which make this novel at least high school.
Recommended for high school to adult, especially someone with an interest in Spain or bullfighting. Theal(1), Joan