This short, intensely lyrical novel begins with Ru, the youngest and most watchful in the family. A violent act among many violent acts has shattered apart the household in A loving, faithful animal, and they must all take stock and decide how to go on. A few long days over Christmas and new years eve have them subject to toxic regret, judgment, psychological trauma and wavering between what is known to be Good and what will preserve them. Ru’s father returned from the Vietnam War irrevocably changed and his wife and daughters navigate his unpredictable moods in different ways – Evelyn bitterly nostalgic for their youthful love, Lani throwing herself out of his orbit, Ru carefully observing the damage and maimed Uncle Tetch trying gently to make amends. Unseen harm and anger simmer through this little book – it has jagged edges and haunted characters. I liked the thread of wildness running through all the people – they suffer but not pathetically, in circumstances too snarled and uncertain to escape.
The writing is tense and evocative, the atmosphere of their setting is skillful and its a compelling story about a group of damaged and wary people.