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When We Were Animals (2015)

av Joshua Gaylord

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
11712182,877 (3.67)16
"When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn't have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen's confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community's darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident "breaches" during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path. Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community's traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town's past, the more we realize that Lumen's memories are harboring secrets of their own. A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland."--… (mer)
  1. 00
    I dödsskuggans land av Alden Bell (sturlington)
    sturlington: These books are by the same author, writing under different names. Both are great reads.
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In a small town in America the teenagers run wild every full moon for three days while their parents, and everyone else locks themselves inside, safe. For three nights the teenagers “breach” and run and fight and fuck. Why it only happens here no one really knows, but in this town this has always happened. After a time the teenagers grow up and leave all that behind, allowing those following after to run wild themselves.

Luman has always been different to the other girls in her class. She is quiet. She is a good. She does what is expected of her. She believes that she will not breach. Her mother never did, her father tells her story as when Lumen was just a baby her mother died in a car crash. So Lumen believes that she will be as different as her mother.

And then she finds herself running naked through the night.

Lumen is the narrator of this story. Now she is married, she has a son, she is remembering growing up. She still feels like an outsider. She doesn’t understand how worried some mothers get at germs and cuts. She knows that bodies are tough, that they can take a lot of punishment and recover. But she still doesn’t really know who she is, or where she fits in society. She has yet to come to terms with herself and with her past. With her relationships with all those around her.

All her childhood she did what she was told, and even know she is fully prepared to be who others think she should be, to act as they think she should act. To be the person others expect her to be.

But every now and then something from inside her will break free and cause her do what others never expect. How is she supposed to reconcile the two Lumens?

When we were animals is a story about trying to find yourself when you don’t know where to look. About how families stifle children in their attempts to protect them, and make it so much harder to grow up. It is a coming of age story that highlights that adult fear of teenagers. Okay, so maybe these teenagers are more dangerous than regular ones, but that idea, that teenagers are capable of such darkness. And there is a lot of darkness in this novel. Violence is everywhere, but in some ways it is an innocent violence. Physically hurting people is just something that happens. But Lumen’s life is also affected by lies and misunderstandings, that lead to more lies and more uncertainty. The darkness that surrounds people and how they interact with one another. The masks people put on to go out into the world, and what those masks hide, and so, of course, what happens when those masks come off.

It’s a book worth reading. ( )
  Fence | Jan 5, 2021 |
Full review to come! ( )
  Floratina | Dec 7, 2019 |
When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord is a peculiar and original coming-of-age story. The story unfolds through the eyes of a grown woman looking back upon her past. Now calling herself Ann and living the quiet life of a suburban housewife, she tells of the curious ritual that happens to teens in her small hometown. Called “breaching” when a teen comes into puberty, they run wild in the night during the full moon. Stripping themselves naked they gather into groups and give in to violence and wild sexual acts. The adults of the town are in full knowledge of this and let the teens run free while they stay behind closed doors. In the morning the teens come home covered in scratches, bruised and bloody but no questions are asked.

Lumen always felt that she was different from everyone else and she fully expected not to breech at all. After all she was raised by her father and was told that her mother, who died when she was very young, had not breached, so she felt strongly that it would not happen to her either. Lumen was a tiny girl, she developed slowly while her classmates had taken to the street she still lagged behind. Considered weak and ineffectual, she was often overlooked by others, but Lumen is much deeper than most people see and her coming of age experience is intense, messy and marks her for life.

This allegorical tale highlights the dramatic change that happens between adolescence and adulthood when all feelings and sensations are extreme. Lumen is now living an “average” life of motherhood and wifedom but inside her those dark feelings that she can no longer express lie waiting. When We Were Animals was an unsettling and strange read, but also one that really stirred the imagination. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jan 9, 2018 |
In a small town somewhere in America, when the children reach adolescence, they breach. On the nights of the full moon, they give in fully to instinct and run wild and naked in the streets. Everyone else stays indoors. There is sex, there is violence; anything can happen, and almost everything is allowed. Lumen Fowler, who narrates the story looking back on her teenagehood as a suburban housewife, is a good girl who does not believe she will breach like the others. Is she wrong?

Clearly, this story is a literalization of coming of age, of the wild, out-of-control feeling that most of us experience in adolescence. It is also a meditation on whether we are right to suppress our instinctive animal natures as we do. The teenage Lumen is a compelling character, who reads and reasons and struggles with herself. However, the scenes featuring the adult Lumen were the ones I found truly chilling, and those elevated this book for me above yet another coming-of-age story. ( )
  sturlington | Jan 27, 2017 |
I loved this book so much. It's a pitch-perfect description of adolescence and family. The language was beautiful and I wish I could read it for the first time all over again. ( )
  trinkers | Nov 28, 2015 |
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There was a mean trick played on us somewhere. God put us in the bodies of animals and tried to make us act like people. That was the beginning of trouble. . . . A man can't live, feeling himself from the inside and listening to what the preachers say. He can't do both, but he can do one or the other. He can live like we were made to live, and feel himself on the inside, or he can live like the preachers say, and be dead on the inside. -- Erskine Caldwell, God's Little Acre
The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them. -- Henry David Thoreau
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For my mother, who, when as a child I woke from nightmares and asked her how dark it was outside, replied, smiling, "Pitch black."
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For a long time, when I was a girl, I was a very good girl.
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"When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn't have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen's confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community's darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident "breaches" during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path. Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community's traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town's past, the more we realize that Lumen's memories are harboring secrets of their own. A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland."--

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