Bad Animals

Highbridge Audio. Mar. 2024. 10:58 hrs. ISBN 9781696614238. $19.99. F
National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Braunstein’s (The Sweet Relief of Missing Children) captivating sophomore novel will keep listeners guessing until the very end. Maeve Cosgrove, a public librarian in Maine, has just been accused of voyeurism—spying on a teen’s hookups in the library bathroom. Maeve is subsequently laid off due to budget cuts, but she cannot help thinking that her dismissal is really due to the voyeurism investigation. As the story unfolds, listeners learn about Maeve’s inner thoughts and how they influence her actions, from an affair with her favorite author to her obsession with Libby, the teen who lodged a complaint against her, to her consumption of the leaves of a mysterious plant that her daughter is researching. The drama of Maeve’s life and the focus on the psychological aspects of her behavior keep the story moving quickly. Carolyn Jania’s narration gives Maeve an innocence and a motherly vibe that, when juxtaposed with her actions, make her a likable, if somewhat pitiable character.
VERDICT An intriguing look at one woman’s psyche as her once-secure life goes off the rails. Listeners who enjoy drama and relational conflict with books and libraries sprinkled in will not want to miss this.
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