20 January 2015

Today's Read: Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht

Migratory Animals by Mary Helen SpechtWhat if your life suddenly seemed out of your control and you were forced to leave your work and loved ones behind? After five years in Nigeria as a climate scientist, Flannery's grant money has run out, and she must return to Austin, Texas, not knowing where or when she'll see her fiance, Kunle, again.

What Flannery first noticed when she arrived in Nigeria were the towering palm trees. It was like walking off the airplane into a land of giants. The next morning, Flannery, barefoot, crossed her new front yard and stood beneath one of the sturdy palms, her shoulder blades pressing into the grooved trunk. She tilted her chin to look up at the canopy when, suddenly, the tree shook its head at her. A flock of birds swept from the branches, crackling the leaves.
Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht (HarperCollins / Harper Perennial, 2015, p. 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: modern times; Nigeria and Austin, Texas
  • Circumstances: When the funding for her work dries up, Flannery is forced to leave Africa. Back home in Texas, she discovers that many of her old college friends are also struggling with the realities of life. Later she must decide to stay in the United States or return to Nigeria.
  • Characters: Flannery, a climate scientist; Kunle, her fiance; Molly, her sister, who is suffering from the early signs of Huntington's disease; various college friends; various people in Africa
  • Genre: literary fiction; adult coming of age
  • Topic & plot points: making an adult life, family, friendships, mental health, marriage, economic independence, first world/third world
  • Major theme: Being in limbo: Flannery is between worlds; one friend is between depression and normalcy; her sister is between health and sickness; others are between rich and poor and marriage and divorce
  • Miscellaneous: The story is told from different view points and captures the nature of thirty-somethings in the modern world; the novel is an Indie Next pick for February
  • The author: Specht lived in Africa under a Fulbright grant and writes from personal experience, although Migratory Animals is fiction. She wrote about her relationship with a Nigerian man in a New York Times "Modern Love" piece.
  • Recommendations: I haven't finished the book but can recommend it to anyone who was, is, or will be in their thirties. In all seriousness, Mary Helen Specht has written an introspective and provocative novel that explores a time of change and growth for Flannery and her friends. Migratory Animals is for anyone who has struggled with the realities of adulthood.


Anonymous,  1/20/15, 6:13 AM  

I found what I presume is the synopsis intriguing, although I think this book would be more suited for me to read when I am closer to 30, as I am only turning 22 in March.

The first paragraph sounds interesting and I really like the cover. Thanks for sharing :)

Suzie Quint 1/20/15, 6:41 AM  

I'm passed the age where I'd be drawn into this I think. Glad you're enjoying it though.

rhapsodyinbooks 1/20/15, 6:49 AM  

I agree about the cover, and the title! enough to pull me in!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 1/20/15, 7:22 AM  

Yes, I like the intro and do want to read it as well....enjoy

Meghan 1/20/15, 7:57 AM  

Only 29 but this sounds good to me - I think I could definitely relate with it enough! Added to the wishlist.

Harvee 1/20/15, 8:25 AM  

I like the setting and the themes and would love to read this though I'm well past my 30s!

Unknown 1/20/15, 8:35 AM  

Sounds interesting.

Mine this week is from a romantic suspense, To Catch a Bad Guy


Anonymous,  1/20/15, 8:57 AM  

I used to live in Austin! About fifty years ago.

My TT this week: http://wp.me/pZnGI-hx

bermudaonion 1/20/15, 9:06 AM  

This sounds really good to me because you feel in limbo when you leave one culture for another anyway. Add leaving a fiance behind and things get more complicated.

Yvonne 1/20/15, 9:22 AM  

It's not usually a genre I'd be interested in, but this opening really got my interest. I'd keep reading.

Daryl 1/20/15, 10:51 AM  

thanks .. i am on the fence with this one …

Laurel-Rain Snow 1/20/15, 10:54 AM  

I do love books that focus on self-discovery, and I love books that show settings that appeal to me, as this one does. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Heather 1/20/15, 11:50 AM  

An intriguing opening. I have a classic mystery this week: Elusive Isabel .

Anonymous,  1/20/15, 12:16 PM  

This one has my interest peaked! (and i happen to be in the age group you say would enjoy it!)

Mine today is from The Girl on the Train

Kim@Time2Read 1/20/15, 12:21 PM  

I'm not sure yet! I love the description of the canopy of birds, and the subject sounds interesting. This one is now on my radar.
Today I'm featuring The Girl With A Clock For A Heart by Peter Swanson.

Sarah's Book Shelves 1/20/15, 12:31 PM  

I love coming of age novels, but the intro to this one didn't really grab me. But, because of the premise, I'd keep reading a little farther before making a decision.

Cleopatra Loves Books 1/20/15, 2:58 PM  

I'm not too sure about this one so I'd have to read a little bit more I think. Thanks for visiting my TT https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/teaser-tuesday-january-20/

Mari 1/20/15, 3:01 PM  

What an interesting sounding book. I always like books that take place in Austin since I have lived there. May have to check this out despite being very close to being out of my 30's.

Cat 1/20/15, 3:01 PM  

Not my kind of book by the sound of it but hope you enjoy!

Anonymous,  1/20/15, 3:27 PM  

Nice cover, sounds interesting, enjoy!

Literary Feline 1/20/15, 4:36 PM  

I love your recommendation "to anyone who was, is, or will be in their thirties." :-)

I like the introduction you shared and the blurb about the book. I can only imagine how difficult it was for the main character to have to leave everything--and everyone behind--and return home.

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian 1/20/15, 5:13 PM  

Sounds like it could be an interesting story...I'd give it a try.

Belle Wong 1/20/15, 6:49 PM  

I thought this was non-fiction at first from the title! It sounds like an interesting read.

Unknown 1/20/15, 10:31 PM  

Wonderfully written. This sounds introspective. Sometimes, I find wonderful books by reading outside my usual genres.

My TT - http://fuonlyknew.com/2015/01/20/teaser-tuesdays-98-in-too-deep/

Anonymous,  1/20/15, 11:09 PM  

Very well written. You have definitely sold me on this one. Thanks for this!

Margot 1/21/15, 12:28 AM  

I like the wonderful images that first paragraph give me. Palm trees are pretty magical.

Kym 1/21/15, 8:28 AM  

Striking imagery!
Thanks for visiting my teaser this week!

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms 1/21/15, 10:12 AM  

This sounds like a great read, Beth! Thanks for sharing.

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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