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Extended Audio Sample The Animators: A Novel, by Kayla Rae Whitaker Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kayla Rae Whitaker Narrator: Alex McKenna Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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“A wildly original novel that pulses with heart and truth . . . That this powerful exploration of friendship, desire, ambition, and secrets manages to be ebullient, gripping, heartbreaking, and deeply deeply funny is a testament to Kayla Rae Whitaker’s formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page. Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time.”—Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest

She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.

In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel’s difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon’s home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

A funny, heartbreaking novel of friendship, art, and trauma, The Animators is about the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood.

Praise for The Animators

“Unusual and appealing . . . The Animators covers familiar debut-novel territory: the search for identity, the desire for success, the bewildering experiences of small-town misfits leaving home for the bright lights of New York City. But Whitaker turns these motifs on their heads simply by changing the direction of the road and populating it with women.”The New York Times Book Review

“A mix of BeachesGirls, and Thelma & Louise . . . a ‘complicated,’ ‘sensual, sexy,’ raw nerve of a ‘roller coaster’ through a ‘tumultuous’ friendship . . . If you let this story happen to you, you’re gonna love it.”Glamour

The Animators is inspiring in its freshness and its authenticity, one of the most original and raw books I’ve read in a long time. I look forward to more Whitaker novels to add to my library.”The Dallas Morning News

“Suffused with humor, tragedy and deep insights about art and friendship.”People

“[A] stunning debut.”Variety

“A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators.”Elle

“An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love—familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make.”—Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • A mix of BeachesGirls, and Thelma & Louise . . . a ‘complicated,’ ‘sensual, sexy,’ raw nerve of a ‘roller coaster’ through a ‘tumultuous’ friendship . . . If you let this story happen to you, you’re gonna love it. Glamour
  • The Animators is inspiring in its freshness and its authenticity, one of the most original and raw books I’ve read in a long time. I look forward to more Whitaker novels to add to my library. The Dallas Morning News
  • An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love—familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make . . . I wish I’d written The Animators. Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder
  • The Animators is a heartbreakingly beautiful, sharply funny, arrestingly unforgettable novel about love and genius, the powerful obsessiveness of artistic creation, and the equally powerful undertow of the past. Kayla Rae Whitaker writes like her head is on fire. Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author of The Great Man
  • Unexpected and nuanced and pulsing with life . . . Sweeping and intimate . . . Empathetic but never sentimental; a book that creeps up on you and then swallows you whole. Kirkus (starred review)
  • [A] stunning debut. Variety
  • Suffused with humor, tragedy and deep insights about art and friendship. People
  • Riveting . . . [The Animators] grabs you by your intestines and doesn’t let go. Interview
  • Whitaker’s vivid debut traces the lives of friends who bond over their rural Southern upbringings, then become an avant-garde animation duo with a cult following and uncomfortable fame. Entertainment Weekly
  • A grand slam home run . . . You will laugh and cry. . . . Gripping from start to finish. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
  • A wonderful, heart-squeezing story . . . about friendship, family, and facing trauma. BookRiot
  • Every artist must come from somewhere; this is something you try to outrun, even as home fuels the creative engine. The Animators is a novel about a pair of cartoonists, but it’s also about the complexity of creative friendship, about balance and jealousy, growing into yourself and living with your talent and trying to actually, impossibly get along in this cracked and unjust world. The result is unapologetic and raucous and compulsively readable; it is potato-chip-friendly and deeply, generously wise. Charles Bock, author of Alice & Oliver
  • Smart, funny, and vibrant, beautifully capturing the intricacies of friendship . . . a vital read. Nylon
  • A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators. Elle
  • A wildly original novel that pulses with heart and truth . . . That this powerful exploration of friendship, desire, ambition, and secrets manages to be ebullient, gripping, heartbreaking, and deeply deeply funny is a testament to Kayla Rae Whitaker’s formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page. Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time. Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest
  • Abiding friendships . . . are rarely portrayed with such nuance and humor as in this first novel, a nimble comedic turn edged with shadow. O: The Oprah Magazine
  • [A] tender, lively début . . . [Kayla Rae] Whitaker’s nimbly created characters are as vibrant as the novel’s title suggests. The New Yorker
  • A mix of Beaches, Girls, and Thelma & Louise . . . a ‘complicated,’ ‘sensual, sexy,’ raw nerve of a ‘roller coaster’ through a ‘tumultuous’ friendship . . . If you let this story happen to you, you’re gonna love it. Glamour
  • Unusual and appealing . . . The Animators covers familiar debut-novel territory: the search for identity, the desire for success, the bewildering experiences of small-town misfits leaving home for the bright lights of New York City. But Whitaker turns these motifs on their heads simply by changing the direction of the road and populating it with women. The New York Times Book Review
  • Memorable, sure-handed, and absorbing. The Boston Globe
  • [An] outstanding debut . . . Whitaker skillfully charts the creative process, its lulls and sudden rushes of perfect inspiration. And in the relationship between Mel and Sharon, she has created something wonderful and exceptional: a rich, deep, and emotionally true connection that will certainly steal the hearts of readers. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • Unexpected and nuanced and pulsing with life . . . Sweeping and intimate . . . Empathetic but never sentimental; a book that creeps up on you and then swallows you whole. Kirkus (starred review)
  • Visceral . . . utterly compelling . . . with the nonstop tension of a soap opera. Booklist
  • Whitaker captures the human frailties that beset everyone—jealousy, anger, insecurity, trauma, the search for love—and weaves them into a compelling story of friendship, self-destruction, and salvation. Library Journal
  • A beguiling story . . .  Whitaker takes us behind the onionskin drawings and slick celluloid, behind the Brooklyn booze and artsy raves, behind the Kentucky white trash and cheap cigarettes to the personal angst and longing that finds some relief in friendship, love and art. Shelf Awareness
  • Kayla Rae Whitaker writes breathlessly and beautifully about the power of deep, true friendship and the ways in which people—and friendships—change over the years. . . . Mel and Sharon jump off the page as real, fully formed characters, and spending time with them is total treat from beginning to end. BookPage
  • A BookPage Top Pick for February 2017
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