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Extended Audio Sample Fragile Beasts: A Novel Audiobook, by Tawni O’Dell Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (757 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tawni O’Dell Narrator: J. Paul Boehmer, Paul Boehmer, Laural Merlington Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2010 ISBN: 9781400186969
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When their hard-drinking but loving father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: leaving their Pennsylvania hometown for an uncertain life in Arizona with the mother who ran out on them years ago. But in a strange twist of fate, their town’s matriarch, an eccentric, wealthy old woman whose family once owned the county coal mines, hears the boys’ story. Candace Jack doesn’t have an ounce of maternal instinct, yet for reasons she does not even understand herself, she is compelled to offer them a home.

Suddenly, the two boys go from living in a small, run-down house on a gravel road to a stately mansion filled with sumptuous furnishings and beautiful artwork—artwork that’s predominantly centered, oddly, on bullfighting. And then there’s Miss Jack’s real-life bull: Ventisco—a regal, hulking, jet-black beast who roams the land she owns with fiery impudence.

Kyle adjusts more easily to the transition. A budding artist, he finds a kindred spirit in Miss Jack. But local baseball hero Klint refuses to warm up to his new benefactress and instead throws himself into his game with a fierceness that troubles his little brother. Klint is not just grieving his father’s death; he’s carrying a terrible secret that he has never revealed to anyone. Unbeknownst to the world, Candace Jack has a secret too—a tragic, passionate past in Spain that the boys’ presence threatens to reveal as she finds herself caring more for them than she ever believed possible.

From the muted, bruised hills of Pennsylvania coal country to the colorful, flamboyant bull rings of southern Spain, Tawni O’Dell takes us on a riveting journey not only between two completely different lands, but also between seemingly incompatible souls, casting us under her narrative spell in which characters and places are rendered with fragile tenderness.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “O’Dell’s love for the fallen-on-hard-times coal country shines through in her fourth novel. A unique blend of such disparate elements as baseball, bullfighting, and fine art along with O’Dell’s multifaceted major and minor characters combine for intriguing vision. Her hard-hitting, well-crafted story packs a wallop.”

    Library Journal

  • “In this tough and tender tale, O’Dell’s triumphant portrait of loss and rejection, sanctuary and redemption, shines with poignancy, dignity, and transcendent joy.”

    Booklist

  • “O’Dell’s eye for class conflict remains as sharp as ever, but she’s broadened the reach of her sympathies…[and has] found new depths in her subject matter and her human understanding.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan Johnson | 2/12/2014

    " couldn't put it down and really enjoyed it. I loved that I didn't get overly involved as I didn't identify with any of the characters deeply at all, so I could just enjoy their stories. However, I was a little disappointed in the direction one of the storylines took toward the end - too predictable and a little melodramatic. But it did not ruin the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica | 2/3/2014

    " This is the first book that I've read in awhile that I couldn't wait to pick up. The writing was wonderful. The characters were believable and well developed. I loved this book. I can't say enough about it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karla | 1/31/2014

    " I enjoyed this book. It's about two teenage boys in Pennsylvania who have to figure out their futures after their father is killed. Like all of Tawni O'Dell's books, this one is set in a coal-mining town, but it's not central to the plot in this novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Graham Botha | 1/30/2014

    " This is a story that will have you chuckling amusedly as well as bring a lump to your throat. O'Dell has the ability to really make you care about her characters. She accomplishes this by using a variety of point of view. Throughout the novels she puts the reader inside the head of all of the major characters. At times this can be confusing as you begin a new chapter. However, it becomes quickly evident whose thoughts you are sharing as she manages to create different personas for all of these characters in her writing. Clever little philosophical quips are used throughout the novel. ("Capitalism is based on the concept that in order for someone to succeed, someone else has to suffer") An entertaining novel that would appeal to all readers: young or old, male or female.. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Candace | 1/22/2014

    " Best book she has written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allison | 1/21/2014

    " Excellent. Unique story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy (Colorado) | 1/8/2014

    " I enjoyed the story very much. The one part that troubled me was the "secret" that Klint was hiding. Totally unexpected and was not prepared for it at all. Don't want to spill the beans! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joyce | 1/4/2014

    " Enjoyed this book very much especially how the relationship between the main characters in the book developed. The plot unfolded in a way that kept my attention and surprised me. The ending of the book left me feeling good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 12/23/2013

    " Really liked this! I remember really enjoying her "Back Roads", and this one didn't let me down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shirley | 12/14/2013

    " Good beach read full of complex relationships and a peek into the world of bullfighting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 S. Sheil | 11/26/2013

    " My current favorite book of all time. Amazing story with so many quotable lines! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracy | 7/16/2013

    " Tawni O'Dell is a beautiful writer. I could not put this book down until I finished it. Bravo. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aimee | 5/12/2013

    " A unique and heart-warming story. I loved it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leah | 4/16/2013

    " This is probably my favorite of the three Tawni O'Dell books I have read so far, all though it's been over ten years since I've read "Backroads". She is excellent at writing male characters. It was fascinating reading about bullfighting, which I knew pretty much nothing about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Evon Carpenter | 2/15/2013

    " Great read! Loved it! Great characterization. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 1/30/2013

    " Awesome, awesome book! I highly recommend it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nikki | 1/25/2013

    " I really enjoyed this story. I could sum it up as being about brothers, baseball and bullfighting... but there is so much more and the author has a wonderful talent. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cyd | 1/12/2013

    " Great name for a book and a great story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 12/31/2012

    " I was hungry for a hero and some villains, and this hit the spot. And conflict. That's always a plus. The baseball game description was a little off base, but the gist was fine. It had some depth overall. Yes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauren | 12/21/2012

    " A guilty pleasure for me. Having said that, O'Dell's books are always enjoyable to read with well paced stories and compelling characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rusane | 10/19/2012

    " Really, really liked this book. I loved Miss Jack and Kyle. I am amazed that a woman could write a male character so well. Best book I have read in some time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 10/18/2011

    " Terrific! Listened to this on CD in my car. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Natalie | 10/3/2011

    " Wonderful! I didn't want it to end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 9/17/2011

    " A touching story. Although it takes place in a western Pennsylvania town, there is a lot of interesting history, explanation about Spanish bull fighting. I wish I had read this before I went to Spain last year! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane Mettee | 7/26/2011

    " Good story with well developed characters "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 5/16/2011

    " Spanish bullfighting culture paired with Pennsylvanian cold mines, eccentric and rich old lady and baseball-loving teen boys, dysfunctional families and functional extended families ~ this is a terrific novel. I was so sorry to come to the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rusane | 4/26/2011

    " Really, really liked this book. I loved Miss Jack and Kyle. I am amazed that a woman could write a male character so well. Best book I have read in some time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 3/8/2011

    " Awesome, awesome book! I highly recommend it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paula | 3/3/2011

    " Quick good read. Funny and touching. Well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 2/27/2011

    " A touching story. Although it takes place in a western Pennsylvania town, there is a lot of interesting history, explanation about Spanish bull fighting. I wish I had read this before I went to Spain last year! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jane | 1/31/2011

    " Maybe I'm just extra picky about novels these days. This book barely held my interest. I was eager to be finished with it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theresa | 1/14/2011

    " Loved it! Would definitley read more from this author. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 12/23/2010

    " Very readable... complex characters and relationships between characters. A sense of impending doom regarding young Klint makes the story compelling. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caty | 12/11/2010

    " A fun, diverting and pretty interesting read. crackling dialogue. Story with bullfighting, baseball, and not quite believable rural PA white trash. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 12/4/2010

    " I was hungry for a hero and some villains, and this hit the spot. And conflict. That's always a plus. The baseball game description was a little off base, but the gist was fine. It had some depth overall. Yes. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Linda | 12/4/2010

    " Pretty contrived and predictable. An easy read with some heart-tugging moments, but overall - don't waste your time.
    This was HIGHLY recommended by a teacher. Just proved we all have different tastes in literature. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 11/20/2010

    " Page turner. Loved it. Many likeable characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vicki | 11/18/2010

    " I love this kind of story! Very engrossing... I have never read anything about bullfighting before! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 11/15/2010

    " I received this as an uncorrected proof from the publisher, some time back.

    I found this to be a satisfying read. For one thing, I learned a lot about bullfighting! I enjoyed the characters--this would probably make a decent film. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kim | 11/14/2010

    " She's incapable of writing a bad book. I consumed this in record time. "

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About the Author
Author Tawni O’Dell

Tawni O’Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of Fragile Beasts, Sister Mine, Coal Run, and Back Roads, which was an Oprah’s Book Club pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. O’Dell’s work has been translated into fifteen languages and published in over forty countries. She was born and raised in the coal-mining region of western Pennsylvania, the territory she writes about with such striking authenticity. She graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and spent many years living in the Chicago area before moving back to Pennsylvania, where she now lives with her two children.

About the Narrators

Paul Boehmer is an American actor best known for his numerous appearances in the Star Trek universe. He began his audiobook work in 2000 and has since lent his voice to many fiction and nonfiction titles. He has won nine AudioFile Earphones Awards as well as the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration in 2009 and 2014. Between books, he is active in regional theaters across the country. His television appearances include guest spots on Nip/Tuck and Numb3rs.

Paul Boehmer is an American actor best known for his numerous appearances in the Star Trek universe. He began his audiobook work in 2000 and has since lent his voice to many fiction and nonfiction titles. He has won nine AudioFile Earphones Awards as well as the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration in 2009 and 2014. Between books, he is active in regional theaters across the country. His television appearances include guest spots on Nip/Tuck and Numb3rs.

Laural Merlington is an audiobook narrator with over two hundred titles to her credit and a winner of eight Earphones Awards. An Audie Award nominee, she has also directed over one hundred audiobooks. She teaches college in her home state of Michigan.