This is a pretty ambitious book (also the author’s first novel). Maybe that’s why it took me so long to finish it–around three weeks or so; slow for me. It’s about friendship, it’s about art and the sufferings/decisions/sacrifices that come with making good art, it’s about being thrown out into the world kicking and screaming (maybe my cynical way of saying “coming of age”).
The two main characters are female animators who meet in art school. Animation is the art form that saves both of them from complicated pasts growing up in desolate Southern families. They can run but they can’t hide from their pasts; they simply take them and mine them for material–painful, of course.
Mel (short for “Melody”) and Sharon’s first successful animated film is about Mel’s mother, who comes to an inglorious end after being shanked in jail. Mel deals with her past by drinking, drugs and casual sex, and seems to find solace in her work, while Sharon uses her work to buffer herself from family and a hugely traumatic event involving her best friend from childhood’s father. It takes awhile for this beast of an event to show up in the book (thanks to the skill of the author) and to finally rear it’s ugly head.
I wondered why it took me so long to finish this book, and I think it’s because it was about so many big ticket life items, as above.
I’d recommend it, but only if you’re ready for a big, meaty book that might require some patience. The Animators is worth reading if you want to have characters who are probably not exactly like you enter your life while you’re reading it, and afterwards.