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4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum hearing about this book from so many people, I just knew I had to experience it for myself And now that I ve read it, When We Were Animals may well be the most interesting book to hit my shelves this year I m still finding it difficult to categorize this unconventional coming of age tale, which combines elements from a variety of genres including mystery, paranormal and horror.Most of the story is told in retrosp 4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum hearing about this book from so many people, I just knew I had to experience it for myself And now that I ve read it, When We Were Animals may well be the most interesting book to hit my shelves this year I m still finding it difficult to categorize this unconventional coming of age tale, which combines elements from a variety of genres including mystery, paranormal and horror.Most of the story is told in retrospect, as protagonist Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood growing up in a small, quiet Midwestern town with a big, dark secret For a few nights every month during the full moon, the town s teenagers run naked and free through the streets like animals, seized by a mysterious and uncontrollable urge known as breaching Every resident of this town has gone through it and know to also expect it in their children, which typically coincides with puberty and lasts about a year Breaching is just something everybody goes through, an unavoidable and natural fact of life about growing up in this town.But is it really inevitable Lumen hardly remembers her mother, who died when she was very little, but she is intrigued by the stories her father tells, about how Lumen s mother never went breach Always the good girl, the high achiever who never gets in trouble or gives cause for worry, Lumen makes a promise to her father that she will never breach either, determined not to succumb to the call of her baser instincts and join her peers in the unrestrained orgies of sex, violence and wild abandon during the full moons.It doesn t take much reading between the lines to figure out When We Were Animals is an allegory for growing up, specifically for the tumultuous period when a young person transitions from adolescence to adulthood What fascinated me is the story s ability to illustrate a range of perceptions towards the concept of breaching Residents seem both proud and ashamed that such a phenomenon is unique to their town, and parents of breaching teenagers treat it with a mixture reverence and trepidation while children both dread and look forward to the day when they too will be called It is beautiful and magical, but also messy and frightening What everyone in Lumen s hometown can agree on though, is that breaching is an important rite of passage once you enter and emerge from the other side, childhood ends and the journey to adulthood begins.What singlehandedly made this book so great was the character of Lumen, whose personality gives this coming of age story an evenunique spin Small and unassuming, our protagonist isn t someone who would stand out in a crowd At school, she would be the one hanging out on the edges of a group, the girl you don t really notice is there Ironically, the fact that she s different from the other kids just makes her eveninvisible, and being a late bloomer doesn t help either, widening the divide between her and her peers.Lumen s introspective nature means that this is a very personal narrative, light on plot but heavy on character She loves to read and learn, and her very unusual way of looking at things made it so that I hung on her every word This story isn t the kind where a lot of things happen, and instead emphasizes internal dialogue over action But I was captivated by it nonetheless In Lumen, I saw not only a teenager struggling to find her identity, but also a girl trying to reconcile her desires to fit in and yet still stand out from the rest It s a motivating factor in all that she does, whether it s asking her dad for stories about her mom or looking up definitions of her peculiar name It shines a new light on her determination not to go breach, which becomesthan just a way to connect to the mother she never knew Not breaching ultimately becomes something she hopes can define her, an achievement she can call her own and make a part of herself.I was completely charmed by Lumen, who is now an adult in a new town with a new name with her own family, telling us about her past This is what made the audiobook such a pleasure to listen to The only downside was sometimes not knowing whether we re in the past or present, since the transitions weren t always obvious in the audio, but the narration was simply fantastic My praise goes to narrator Suehyla El Attar bringing Lumen to life Her voice became the character s voice, and after that it was just a matter of letting go and allowing the story to transport you to another time, another place.At times eerie and unsettling, at others powerful and heartwarming, When We Were Animals has a lot to say about topics like independence and teenage rebellion and peer pressure There are the moments that disturbed and horrified me, many of which are related to the descriptions of what goes on when the teenagers were breaching, but there were also scenes that touched me, especially those featuring the closeness between Lumen and her father This an absolutely fantastic and well executed story about the stark realities of human nature and growing up I m still reeling from the rollercoaster of emotions When We Were Animals is getting a lot of high praise, and it s all true Every bit of it.And then there was me.The writing in When We Were Animals is fantastic I must read all the things by Joshua Gaylord I m happy to hear Alden Bell is a pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord because I have a copy of The Reapers are the Angels and I will be tearing into that soon.I was hooked by When We Were Animals right away Lumen grew up in a very strange town, and I loved the alternating timelines between her chil When We Were Animals is getting a lot of high praise, and it s all true Every bit of it.And then there was me.The writing in When We Were Animals is fantastic I must read all the things by Joshua Gaylord I m happy to hear Alden Bell is a pseudonym for Joshua Gaylord because I have a copy of The Reapers are the Angels and I will be tearing into that soon.I was hooked by When We Were Animals right away Lumen grew up in a very strange town, and I loved the alternating timelines between her childhood and the present day Somewhere in the middle, though, the book got stuck for me There was no shift in time, no forward movement of the story, so much so that I almost didn t finish reading it I imagine readers with strong skills in literary analysis will have a field day with all of the allegory present in Lumen s teenager years, but I m not that reader I am glad I persevered and didn t miss out on the ending of When We Were Animals This is a special book that I won t easily forget Like I said, this book is getting high praise and it is well deserved For me, I just can t get past the fact that I wanted to put it down The problem with audiobooks is that you can t highlight the beautiful passages, and when you re finished, you can t easily go back and read and re read your favourite parts So it s a bit of a shame I listened to When We Were Animals rather than read a physical copy as I do with 98% of my books , because this book is stuffed to the brim with melancholy, poignant, bittersweet moments And it was wonderful.I wouldn t call this one a surprise, exactly, because I d seen a few glowing reviews and I The problem with audiobooks is that you can t highlight the beautiful passages, and when you re finished, you can t easily go back and read and re read your favourite parts So it s a bit of a shame I listened to When We Were Animals rather than read a physical copy as I do with 98% of my books , because this book is stuffed to the brim with melancholy, poignant, bittersweet moments And it was wonderful.I wouldn t call this one a surprise, exactly, because I d seen a few glowing reviews and I have a strong fondness for coming of age stories, but it still wasn t quite what I thought it would be I was expectinghorror, werewolves, violence but told in aliterary way than your standard genre book , but what this really is is a compelling portrait of adolescent angst with a slight supernatural spin that just heightens that already intense experience.Lumen is a flawed but fascinating protagonist, and because the narrator of the audiobook is obviously a woman, I completely forgot that her character was written by a man She just does the good girl gone bad transformation in such a realistic and non cliche way that it s hard to believe Joshua Gaylord hasn t gone through a teenage girl s life himself.For all of its exciting topics and unusual premise, When We Were Animals is not exactly what I would call fast paced It s gothic and dark but not horror it has several twists but is by no means plot driven It s introspective and thought provoking, and a perfect slow burn Blah I wanted to write and gush about this one , but there are only so many adjectives I can pull out here All I can say is if any of the above appeals to you, just read this You can thank me later I love coming of age stories I will gladly read the minutiae of a character s adolescence and their reflections on life and all that I love relating to the characters, which happens a lot, since they are often awkward loners.I also hate coming of age stories They re painful in the way real life is painful You like someone who doesn t know you exist, or doesn t like you back You accidentally do really awkward things in front of people People laugh at you You die internally The characters I love coming of age stories I will gladly read the minutiae of a character s adolescence and their reflections on life and all that I love relating to the characters, which happens a lot, since they are often awkward loners.I also hate coming of age stories They re painful in the way real life is painful You like someone who doesn t know you exist, or doesn t like you back You accidentally do really awkward things in front of people People laugh at you You die internally The characters never end up with the person they like so hard throughout the book The characters do such dumb things you want to punch them in the face Something so awful happens to them you want to punch the author They become sad somehow as adults When We Were Animals had all of the above Except Lumen wasn t a character you wanted to punch in the face She was likeable and smart, she didn t hate other people, and she didn t randomly do stupid things The story is told by her as an adult, and while she is sort of one of those sad adults these characters can become, she s also not.All the characters were real people The bitchy popular girl, the best friend who makes new friends, the hot popular guy, and the bad seed were all here, and none of them were cardboard cutouts.Coming of age stories are hardly ever satisfying But I found that wasn t the case here Although it did end on something of an abrupt note, it was also rather brilliant I see what you did there, Mr Gaylord I really enjoyed reading this I was initially skeptical since I didn t like Gaylord s first novel, but I loved the books written under his pen name I love his writing and the way he can explain the most mundane things to make them beautiful I mean, I kind of want to marry the guy, but I m not a bigamist, so there s that But I ll definitely be looking out for his future work [ READ KINDLE ] ⚇ When We Were Animals ♖ When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown When We Were Animals is Lumen s confessional as a well behaved and over achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community s darkest, strangest secret For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident breaches during the full moon On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their pathBut Lumen resists She promises her father she will never breach, she investigates the secrets behind the community s traditions, and finally unearths the stories buried in her family s past As the mysteries mount, we realize we may not know Lumen or Anne as she now calls herself at allA gothic coming of age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland I m reduced to one word descriptors Lyrical, haunting, sexy, disturbing, dark, and oddly beautiful and dangerous A smart and challenging anti coming of age story that doesn t gloss over the damage we cause to ourselves and to who we love in the process of finding out who we are I like to imagine that Lumen hangs out with Shirley Jackson s Merricat Does this qualify as a review Ah, who cares Read the book. One of the best and most original coming of age stories I have ever read A combination of beautiful prose and horrifying situations I ll be thinking about this one for awhile. We live our lives by measures of weeks, months, years, but the creatures we truly are, those are exposed in fractions of momentsLumen Fowler recounts her childhood growing up in a small town in the Midwest that is anything but ordinary Children in this town, once they hit puberty, they go through what is called breaching where they let go of all social constraints and literally run wild and naked in the streets at night when the moon is full Lumen is a bit of a late bloomer and believWe live our lives by measures of weeks, months, years, but the creatures we truly are, those are exposed in fractions of momentsLumen Fowler recounts her childhood growing up in a small town in the Midwest that is anything but ordinary Children in this town, once they hit puberty, they go through what is called breaching where they let go of all social constraints and literally run wild and naked in the streets at night when the moon is full Lumen is a bit of a late bloomer and believes herself to be different from the other children until she inevitably succumbs with the need to feel the night air on her skin.First and foremost, this is not a werewolf story despite how the summary seems to allude to it There is no physical transformation that these children undergo, only a surrendering to the madness that we ve all felt stirring inside us at one time or another The fact that this all occurs beneath the light of the full moon seems to be pure happenstance When We Were Animals brought to life the horrors of coming of age and learning to navigate the trickiness betwixt childhood and adulthoodshe was some nightmarish inversion of the person who had played in the sprinklers with me years before This girl was raw, viperous, glutted on nature and night They all were Like coyotes, they made mockery, with their bleating voices, of those who needed light in order to feel safe.And yet they were all too humanThis was one of the most exquisitely written books I ve ever had the pleasure of reading Vibrant and completely full of animalistic life It s not a traditional horror story, however, it is a very simplistic horror that we ve all suffered through in life It details a savageness a rawness It was incredible The plot itself is quite meandering, just as growing up seems to take forever to get through Also, like a typical teenager that can t wait to grow up and for life to finally happen of which it never seems to meet your expectations , this story never amounted to anything I kept anticipating something monumental that never came Still, this story of growing up is well worth the effortIn the daylight you scoff at the shadows you cowered from the night beforeI received this book free from a Giveaway in exchange for an honest review This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This book was a bit of a surprise It s predominantly about a young girl and her experience taking part in her small town s breaching ritual, in which all the teenagers strip naked and run around the town like animals, fighting for dominance, and well, fornicating like rabbits under the full moonThat might sound like a bit of a gimmick story, but I have to say the writing was excellent and it really sold the concept to me The many references to the moon on the blurb led me to believe I was This book was a bit of a surprise It s predominantly about a young girl and her experience taking part in her small town s breaching ritual, in which all the teenagers strip naked and run around the town like animals, fighting for dominance, and well, fornicating like rabbits under the full moonThat might sound like a bit of a gimmick story, but I have to say the writing was excellent and it really sold the concept to me The many references to the moon on the blurb led me to believe I was getting some kind of werewolf story, but it s actually just a dark, literary coming of age tale with this weird fictional ritual as a backdrop where the kids are taken over by aanimalistic mind set I d really like to seeliterary fiction takingout of the box concepts like this one, because this really worked for me and just screams originiality Definite recommendation 4 Stars 3 1 2 starsOn the surface this book is a YA story that takes on a strange phenomena, something the sleepy Midwestern town keeps secret from outsiders Starting at puberty, all the town s teenagers breach during the nights of the full moon They rip their clothes off destroy themselves and property have indiscriminate sex with each other, only to wake up bloody and bruised the next morning What really happens during the nights of the full moon Why do the parents and town allow this to take 3 1 2 starsOn the surface this book is a YA story that takes on a strange phenomena, something the sleepy Midwestern town keeps secret from outsiders Starting at puberty, all the town s teenagers breach during the nights of the full moon They rip their clothes off destroy themselves and property have indiscriminate sex with each other, only to wake up bloody and bruised the next morning What really happens during the nights of the full moon Why do the parents and town allow this to take place Have you ever watched a documentary about primates and how they challenge the alpha male, seek mates and express dominance submission in the troop If you have then you will have a pretty good idea what to expect of the behavior of the teenagers that breach during full moon.The problem with this seemingly straightforward gothic coming of age novel is this It does not allow you to stay safe on its superficial surface, it drags you down into an uncomfortable dark place where it is so easy to understand why teenagers cut themselves, why they hurt and hate themselves Lumen our protagonist, faces the fears and issues most teenagers face but with the added weight of trying to be an exemplary over achiever child to her single parent father She will NOT breach, she will not run wild like the others, and she will not disappoint her father.At times I felt as if the story was overly sexual in nature, other times overly simplistic only made up of the teenage angst and frustrations disguised in pretty words But I can t deny the beautiful prose, the bizarre feel of the story and depth of insight it showed and it had me completely in its thrall I still don t know how I really feel about this book It may not be for everyone but for me it was a compulsively readable, disturbing story with so so many layers