Animal by Lisa Taddeo

I'm not usually one to gorge myself in thriller novels, but I was keen to read this having recently enjoyed Lisa's last book, Three Women. I had a strong desire to read more of her work and thanks to Simon & Schuster I had the opportunity to do so before this beauty hit the shelves. 

Animal pulled me in immediately, Taddeo's prose like a lasso, restraining, gripping, and captivating me with her every word, hauling me on a visual journey with her.

The book is centered around one character. Joan, oh poor Joan, surrounded by loss. 

The loss of her mother, her father, her latest fling. She’s alone. 

Well, not entirely alone, there is someone 2,700 miles away. Alice is in Los Angeles. 

However, Alice doesn't know that Joan exists, and Joan is harbouring a secret larger than life that could either bring the two closer together or tear them apart forever. 

In her late 30's now, Joan has spent a lifetime facing unspeakable trauma, enduring the cruel acts of the men around her. And because of that, she "craved men who lived happy lives of which [she] would never be a part", and she learned to use men to get what she wanted when she wanted it. Each man she met along the way was just another insignificant stand in for her dead father. She's trying to fill that void, and at the same time wearing her dead mother's clothes, while practicing the learned sex tricks of her dead aunt Gosia. 

Joan is alone, and yet she is searching for someone she has never met

As the book goes on, we learn more of Joan’s pain and past traumas. What she’s seen, what she’s been through. The real tragedies that have brought her to where she is right now. “What I saw then was impossible. But that’s what happened that night. I learned that the impossible was possible”, she says. 

Taddeo takes us on a lucid visual journey while Joan tries to resurrect her past, come to terms with her current traumas, deal with the grief and shame surrounding her, and as she faces her future fears. 

Joan is “the parts of us that no one wants to admit to”.  

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Lisa Taddeo has a unique way with words, words that will wrap their arms around you and grip you instantaneously. 

This book took me on a ride deep into one woman’s psyche as she tries to find her way in the world. I found myself both loving and hating Joan, my thoughts changing intermittently with each page I turned. 

And through Taddeo’s writing, just like Three Women, I felt like I was there with Joan, through every step of her journey, as she packed her bags in New York, as she drove to the West, and as she went through every insufferable emotion, and yet still endured

Animal is a compelling and absolutely gripping story, a brilliant debut novel from Lisa Taddeo. The book is available for pre-order through Indigo for release on June 8th. Other Canadian retailers can be found via Simon & Schuster

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