Author: Annie Hartnett

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: Ballentine Books

Publication Date: April 12, 2022

Book Description: It was a source of entertainment at Maple Street Cemetery. Both funny and sad, the kind of story we like best.

Natural-born healer Emma Starling once had big plans for her life, but she’s lost her way. A medical school dropout, she’s come back to small-town Everton, New Hampshire, to care for her father, who is dying from a mysterious brain disease. Clive Starling has been hallucinating small animals, as well as having visions of the ghost of a long-dead naturalist, Ernest Harold Baynes, once known for letting wild animals live in his house. This ghost has been giving Clive some ideas on how to spend his final days.

Emma arrives home knowing she must face her dad’s illness, her mom’s judgment, and her younger brother’s recent stint in rehab, but she’s unprepared to find that her former best friend from high school is missing, with no one bothering to look for her. The police say they don’t spend much time looking for drug addicts. Emma’s dad is the only one convinced the young woman might still be alive, and Emma is hopeful he could be right. Someone should look for her, at least. Emma isn’t really trying to be a hero, but somehow she and her father bring about just the kind of miracle the town needs. 

Set against the backdrop of a small town in the throes of a very real opioid crisis, Unlikely Animals is a tragicomic novel about familial expectations, imperfect friendships, and the possibility of resurrecting that which had been thought irrevocably lost.

Rating: 5 Stars

Review: This is Annie Hartnett’s second book and there was no sophomore slump for this delightful, quirky read.

Emma Starling returns home after an incident at work and she loses her job. Emma is known for being a “healer” which she recently lost. Her father Clive is diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease and through circumstance Emma is made his guardian, when her mother does not want the job. While at home, Emma also decides to take on a long term substitute teaching job for a fifth grade class. Her father, a retired college professor, claiming she should just do a “c” job.

I am not sure even how to write a review for this book as there is just so much to uncover, which makes this book so much fun. There are ghosts, a domesticated fox, the opioid crisis, a missing girl and self discovery all in this one book.

I absolutely loved this book so much, You will delight in following this family especially Emma and Clive. There are serious moments in this book, but how these story lines are handled are perfection and never seem to drag this book down. Trust me, just go out and read this, you will not be disappointed.

Thank you NetGalley and Ballentine Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Posted by:Lauren A.

You really can say I am an obsessed reader as I read 200-300 books per year. I love Literary Fiction, Memoirs (I don't really care what kind), Mysteries and Thrillers. Once in awhile I will thrown in some YA and Romance. When I am not reading, I am a Sales Engineer for a software company, and I take care of my three cats with my husband. I love music, which my college degree is in. Looking forward to share my thoughts on all things reading.

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