This is the book I find the hardest to sum my thoughts about. It’s not an easy read. Actually, it felt more like punches that never stopped coming. Animal by Lisa Taddeo is to be approached carefully (and not just story-wise. Check the TWs for this book!)
Table of Contents
ANIMAL by Lisa Taddeo
From Lisa Taddeo, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon Three Women, comes an “intoxicating” (Entertainment Weekly), “fearless” (Los Angeles Times), and “explosive” (People) novel about “what happens when women are pushed beyond the brink, and what comes after the reckoning” (Esquire).
Joan has spent a lifetime enduring the cruelties of men. But when one of them commits a shocking act of violence in front of her, she flees New York City in search of Alice, the only person alive who can help her make sense of her past. In the sweltering hills above Los Angeles, Joan unravels the horrific event she witnessed as a child—that has haunted her every waking moment—while forging the power to finally strike back.
Animal is a depiction of female rage at its rawest, and a visceral exploration of the fallout from a male-dominated society.
Animal was part of my June read, and it is the first (but it definitely won’t be the last!) book by Lisa Taddeo I’ve read.
TW: drug abuse, sexual assault, rape, murder, abortion, miscarriage, suicide, adultery, violence, car crash, dementia
I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. I know I didn’t expect this when I started reading the book. I first found it on BookTok. I didn’t even look at the description much, I just saw it everywhere and thought: “Okay, I’ll read it.” Please, don’t make the same mistake. I don’t regret reading it, but you must check the trigger warnings beforehand.
I drove myself out of New York City where a man shot himself in front of me.Animal by Lisa Taddeo
This is the opening line of the book that only gets darker from there. The man who shot himself was someone of importance in Joan’s life. He was Joan’s boss and a married man with kids. Only, there was something else there, too. But that day, Joan is on a date with another married man. She says she wasn’t always like that, but before we hear the rest, she leaves New York.
Joan’s on a quest to track down Alice, and until the end, we don’t know who Alice is or why it’s so important for Joan to find her. Also, Joan often addresses someone, saying: “She was a Pisces, like you.” This direct addressing at random parts in the story would sometimes throw me off because I couldn’t figure out who this “you” was.
That, and playing with the verb tenses, made me make the wrong guesses about what was to happen in the story. But only Joan knows the whole story, and she needs to be the one to tell it. She doesn’t just state the event (that’s almost always traumatic), we get to know about it through how she felt about it. That’s how we see her character.
Her explanation of the events is crucial in understanding Joan’s personality, drive, motivation, reactions, and the effect that different traumas she sustained or witnessed had on her.
The older the man, the more my specialty. I knew that when I met God one day it would go well.Animal by Lisa Taddeo
Joan says she was observant as a kid, but considering she had a complicated relationship with her parents (the mommy/daddy issues), all those traits she had even then seemed like a form of a trauma response. Then, there are other events, too. Knowing her childhood and the events that transpired, it’s easier to understand her relationship with women and men in her adult life.
“like most of childhood, some darkness is downloaded, but you can’t decode it until later – “Animal by Lisa Taddeo
Rage is the one word that always comes up whenever there’s any talk about Animal. Some of Joan’s doings will seem too sickening, so to say, but I think no woman will ever not share this rage, even if she wants to suppress it and polish it out.
There’s a quote about rage that’s not from the book, and I don’t know where it’s from, but I think it fits well with the topic:
“Men think they’re so angry. They’re not angry. They’re just weak to the false power that aggression gives them. No man will ever understand the sheer, unearthly rage I feel inside when I, or any other woman, is treated lesser than for being a woman. Men do not own rage, it’s not theirs. It’s ours.”
Anyway, this book is something. I don’t even know what to call it (if I say ”beautiful” I mean that women are. Women are beautiful, awe-inspiring, loving, and fierce), but I would 100% recommend it to you.
Hope this post was fun! Have you read Animal already? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments 😀