I got the opportunity to read Animal Cracker when author Andi Brown put out a call for reviews on her Twitter account. Never one to miss the opportunity for a free read I read the synopsis on Amazon and happily sent my credentials to the contact email in her Tweet. Within about thirty minutes Ms. Brown kindly sent me a Kindle copy of her book (she generously offered a print copy as well) and simply asked that I provide an honest review online for other readers.
I truly am thankful that I happened to be on Twitter when Andi put out her request because Animal Cracker was the novel equivalent of a hot cup of cocoa. It wasn’t the heartiest thing I could have read, and it didn’t qualify as something healthful or edifying, but I felt warm and comforted as I zipped through the story.
Spoilers for some elements of the ending are below:
Twenty-five year old Diane thought her life was over when her boyfriend, Andrew, dumped her for beautiful, snobbish Alison Cooke. She threw herself into volunteering at Animal Protection Organization’s Dorchester shelter hoping to mend her broken heart with the warm fuzzies garnered from helping homeless dogs, but she found her new calling as communications director for APO’s main office. However, her new boss, Hal, seems more devoted to his weird personal projects than actively helping Boston’s animals in need, and Diane ends up on a quest to figure out what’s behind his bizarre attitude. The adventure helps the twenty-five year old identify what is most important in her life and build some long lasting bonds with people who truly matter.
What I Liked:
- Diane’s relationship with her roommate and friend, Genie, felt genuine and realistic. While they did talk about Diane’s relationship woes, Genie also was a partner in crime for various shenanigans, and her life was fully realized. She didn’t just exist so Diane could whine about boy trouble.
- Truthfully, I really liked all of the women in Animal Cracker especially Betty. They all were well-rounded people, not just cardboard cutouts designed to fill a role in a static universe.
- As an animal shelter volunteer any story about the world and the difficulties behind running a shelter is close to my heart. I was only disappointed that we didn’t have more about the animals themselves, although the human cast was definitely dramatic!
- Diane’s life wasn’t magically perfect at the end of the novel. While she’d managed to alter things at APO for the better, and she felt happier in her personal life, there was still room for growth. It was a believable ending to a fairly realistic story.
What Didn’t Work for Me:
- I am a pit bull advocate, and there was a tiny reference to a surly teenager being like a snarling pit bull at the beginning of the story. It was mostly insignificant, but it knocked me out of the comfort zone of the world for a moment and set me on edge.
- The attitude toward hunting presented as part of the climax bothered me substantially until I realized it was more in light of the character’s public animal rights stance. As someone who has grown up in Texas I respect hunting as a way to control animal populations and provide food for some people. However, the blatant joy of killing animals presented as counter to animal sheltering professionals’ ideal persona is a very valid concern.
I recommend Animal Cracker to anyone who needs a brief escape from his or her daily life and has the slightest interest in how non-profits work. It’s a light, fluffy piece that won’t change your life, but it may put you in a better frame of mind for a little while.
4 Crazy Animal Print Ties out of 5