Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Blog Tour: Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht

320 p.
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Published: 1/20/15
Source: TLC Book Tours for review
Book Links: Goodreads, Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble
A powerful debut novel about a group of 30-somethings struggling for connection and belonging, Migratory Animals centers on a protagonist who finds herself torn between love and duty. 
When Flannery, a young scientist, is forced to return to Austin from five years of research in Nigeria, she becomes torn between her two homes. Having left behind her loving fiancé without knowing when she can return, Flan learns that her sister, Molly, has begun to show signs of the crippling genetic disease that slowly killed their mother.

As their close-knit circle of friends struggles with Molly’s diagnosis, Flannery must grapple with what her future will hold: an ambitious life of love and the pursuit of scientific discovery in West Africa, or the pull of a life surrounded by old friends, the comfort of an old flame, family obligations, and the home she’s always known. But she is not the only one wrestling with uncertainty. Since their college days, each of her friends has faced unexpected challenges that make them reevaluate the lives they’d always planned for themselves. 
A mesmerizing debut from an exciting young writer, Migratory Animals is a moving, thought-provoking novel, told from shifting viewpoints, about the meaning of home and what we owe each other—and ourselves.
My thoughts:

 This sounded like a character driven book and I was not disappointed. This is an exploration of a group of friends and how you cannot run away from your past, you can only deal with it. It's about life that will recycle old problems in new ways until you finally deal with what is in front of you. It deals with death, suicide, hard decisions, love, laughter and friendship. What I also loved about this novel is that the characters are a variety of those in the human race and not all are on the US continent. I really enjoyed characters with mixed heritage.

As you travel through this time period with the friends you only hope that good things come to them in the end. While that happens for some, it does not happen for all. However, it isn't a depressing book and all seem to be where they need to be for the next step in life. My only complaint is that we don't know what happens to Flannery (the person we both start and stop with in this book) in her love life but while I hate that, the ending did feel complete.

I give this book 4 stars. If you want something in character exploration with a cast that are as individual as the people you know, I recommend this book.

About the author:
Born and raised in Abilene, Texas, Mary Helen Specht has a B.A. in English from Rice University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College, where she won the department’s fiction award. Her writing has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes and has appeared in numerous publications, including: The New York Times; The Colorado Review; Prairie Schooner; Michigan Quarterly Review; The Southwest Review; Florida Review; Southwestern American Literature; World Literature Today; Blue Mesa; Hunger Mountain; Bookslut; The Texas Observer; and Night Train, where she won the Richard Yates Short Story Award.

A past Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow, Specht teaches creative writing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

Author Mary Helen Specht's website, and Twitter.


  1. I hate not knowing what happens to a character - especially with a romance lol but otherwise this sounds fantastic.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  2. Replies
    1. It was. It is a good departure from what I usually read.

  3. I just read a character driven book, like this, and while I enjoyed it, I was frustrated too because the fate of the main charcaters was left open. I think it will be awhile before I pick up another one of these reads.

    1. Usually that bothers a lot, but it only bothered me a little here. :)

  4. I'm so happy you had a good time with this one Melissa! I love character driven stories but it's rare to find one that leaves you feeling completely satisfied with the ending.

  5. Color me curious, this is different from recent reads and I like these characters driven novels from time to time. Great review and find Melissa.

  6. I love character driven stories like this. It sounds like there's a lot of depth to it.

  7. It"s an interesting topic. I didn't know about this book but it sounds fascinating to discover the story. thanks for the discovery!

  8. I enjoyed this book mostly, but I did feel like it ended incomplete...I love a good character driven novel with substance and this one had that for sure, so I forgave the drop off in the end. Flannery and Alyce were my favorite characters. Enjoyed your review :)

  9. I love a good character-driven story Melissa! It's a shame you don't get the last bit of information about Flannery and her love life, but overall this sounds really great!

  10. So not a book for me! And the fun thing is, Specht is the Dutch name for Woodpecker. I don't think those birds migrate ...

  11. Intriguing subject matter but I don't think this is one for me. I'm much more of a plot-driven gal!

  12. The exploration of the group friendship sounds interesting

  13. Oh very different. That's great they each had such a different voice and didn't get lost in the mix of the group.

  14. I like that you can say that all the characters are where they need to be for their next step in life. That kind of positive, open-ended conclusion to a story really appeals to me.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  15. I love character driven books, and this is so different from what I normally read! Glad you enjoyed it - I'll have to add it to my list. I need to stretch my reading more often. :)


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