The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker-5/5 Star Review

Sharon Kisses crept into New York City from her small hometown in Kentucky and tried not to look back. But then something happens that forces her to go back and see her childhood in a new light.

Mel Vaught attracts attention wherever she goes. Bold, enigmatic, and often reckless, she and Sharon’s opposite personalities attract and balance in their personal and work life. They meet in college and start their careers as partners in an animation project that gained unexpected fame.

Their work life and their personal lives are consistently intertwined in a complicated friendship firmly set on a foundation of loyalty-and partying. The ebb and flow of luck and misfortune hit each of them yet it springboards their creativity and a large animation project seems to be a result.

Initially, I was growing a bit bored with this book. However, a plot twist emerged and I jumped back in. After this point, it was difficult to put down. Not only do the main characters develop throughout the story, but even the smaller side characters.

The story is told solely from Sharon’s perspective and the timeline spans a few decades. In my opinion, this provided depth and built connection between the characters and the reader. The author did a fantastic job of incorporating multiple plot twists that enriched the story (which was partly why I was amazed to find that this is the author’s debut novel). Towards the end of the book, I was entrenched in Sharon and Mel’s lives. I felt their frustrations. I felt their bond. I felt their grief.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to be able to feel a connection to characters. Also for anyone who enjoys books focusing on honest friendship and the strength required to maintain it.

Conversely, this book would not be for anyone who is offended by alcohol abuse, substance abuse, suggestions of sexual abuse, sexually suggestive scenarios, and foul language.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by Penguin Random House through their First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

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