Beasts and Children by Amy Parker
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 2/2/16
eBook review copy; 320 pages
trade paperback ISBN-13: 9780544370135
Beasts and Children by Amy Parker is a very highly
recommended heart-breaking short story collection.
All the stories in this collection are interconnected, with
characters reappearing and their stories continuing from one story
to the next, and following these characters from childhood to
adulthood. All of the stories also feature animals. Read together
these stories are complementary; the recurring characters of the
stories create the feeling of a novel since all the stories are
The writing is very good, descriptive and haunting, but the stories
can be dark and depressing, with children and animals firmly at the
mercy of selfish, obstinate, egocentric adults who are, quite
frankly, neglecting them through their disregard, inattention, and
carelessness. There are a couple times when I almost refused to
continue reading. For those with a tender heart toward children and
animals, this one might be too difficult to read to the end. In the
end, I was glad I finished this collection, but, oh my, there were
some tears and struggles to get there.
Table of Contents:
The White Elephant: It's 1967 and the last year sisters Cissy and
Carline Bowman have an unbroken family.
Rainy Season: Jill Foster and Maizie, her little sister, are the
daughters of diplomats in Chiang Mai. Disaster results occur when
Jill decides to leave the compound one night and Maizie follows.
The Balcony: Danny's mother pulls him out of school and they hit the
road with his dog Orla. She's following a man she's obsessed with.
Endangered Creatures: Jill and Maizie, who are in trouble with their
father over their adventure, visit a Thai orphanage with a woman and
Beasts and Children: Jerry's father tries to teach him to be tough
after his mother leaves them. (This story is almost too much to
Catastrophic Molt: Cissy and Carline reflect on the year their
mother was dying from cancer.
The Corpse Diver: Jill and Jerry are married and struggling with a
needy woman who lives nearby. "When Piper was born, Jill got tired
and Jerry got religion."
Sunfish: Daniel (Danny; Cissy and Carline's cousin) has fallen in
love with Maizie.
A Neighborly Day for a Beauty: Maizie is deciding whether she wants
to continue with her pregnancy.
Grace: Carline's life may be changing when she meets a single
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy
of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for review