Tina Jordan
March 16, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The God of Animals

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Aryn Kyle
publisher
Scribner
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B-

The first chapter of The God of Animals, Aryn Kyle’s coming-of-age novel, blew me away. After a little digging, I figured out why: It was originally published as a short story in The Atlantic Monthly. Those pages are buffed to a fine luster that the rest of the book, though ambitious, never matches. The book follows Alice Winston, a small-town Colorado girl, lover of horses and mediator of family disputes. Her dad runs a stable; her mom, ill with depression, never leaves the bedroom; and her beloved older sister Nona has eloped with a cowboy. It?s a pretty volatile mix that does, as promised, explode, though in a way I never expected. Despite the jagged ups and downs of Kyle?s prose, I read this straight through, never leaving my chair. B?

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