Blog Book Tour | “Migratory Animals” by Mary Helen Specht A Literary novel whose pace is uniquely it’s own and whose character is an observation on how we live within the hours we’ve been given.

Posted Wednesday, 11 February, 2015 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Migratory Animals” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher Harper Perennial via HarperCollins Publishers, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

Each time I am given a set of books that are upcoming on a blog tour via TLC, one of the few characteristics I am seeking out of that set of stories is to seek a path to new authors who not only will challenge my mind and my heart as I read their narratives but perhaps they will take me somewhere not yet seen. I love the inertia of the discovery — to dare to seek out a story or an author who will write a story that will leave me wholly enthused by the experience for having sought out their literary work as much as the joy to write about their story will give me a heap of happpiness whilst their story is still fervently attached to my memory.

There are moments where I stumble across a book or an author who has left me quite curious for what I shall find inside their covers. What will I come across once the book is in hand? Once the character is known to me more intimately than a brief appearance in a short synopsis? What will my lasting thoughts be about the journey I took inside the book itself? These were some of my initial hopes and thoughts as I looked over the list of upcoming books for blog tours for Spring 2015.

Migratory Animals simply ‘stood out’ from the pack.

There was something uniquely different about this one.

Hence why I was quite on pins to read it and see where it’s story would lead me to travel.

Blog Book Tour | “Migratory Animals” by Mary Helen Specht A Literary novel whose pace is uniquely it’s own and whose character is an observation on how we live within the hours we’ve been given.Migratory Animals

When Flannery, a young scientist, is forced to return to Austin after five years of research in Nigeria, she becomes torn between her two homes. Having left behind her loving fiancé without knowing when she will return, Flannery learns that her sister, Molly, has begun to show signs of the genetic disease that slowly killed their mother.

As their close-knit circle of friends struggles with Molly’s diagnosis, Flannery must grapple with what her future will hold: love and the pursuit of scientific discovery in West Africa, or the pull of a life surrounded by old friends, the comfort of an old flame, family obligations, and the home she’s always known. But she is not the only one wrestling with uncertainty. Since their college days, all of her friends have faced unexpected challenges that make them reevaluate the lives they’d always planned for themselves.

A mesmerizing debut from an exciting young writer, Migratory Animals is a moving, thought-provoking novel, told from shifting viewpoints, about the meaning of home and what we owe each other—and ourselves.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Pages: 320

Published By: Harper Perennial (@HarperPerennial),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #MigratoryAnimals

About Mary Helen Specht

Mary Helen Specht’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times and Colorado Review. A winner of the Richard Yates Short Story Award, among other prizes, she is a former Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow. She earned an MFA in fiction from Emerson College and now teaches creative writing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

My Review of Migratory Animals:

Specht has written a lyrically stimulating prose where the pulse-beats are set to their own unique rhythm, as this story doesn’t reveal itself in a contemporary manner. Instead, you soak through the remnants of a remorse stricken traveller whose forced due to budget cuts to re-align her life after having settled herself inside a life far outside the scope of where her family could touch her. Flannery is an interesting character by far, as she lives outside the rules of society as much as she’s a seeker of a life to be lived on her own choices and merits of acceptance for what a wholly full life is meant to look like from the outside.

The pace is quite fluid and set to a quick-step, giving you only a few bits of insight per each page you’ve turnt as the story is guided forward with a hidden urgency to arrive to the next chapter or in this case, the ‘next moment’ of Flannery’s life. She’s not a forward planner, nor is she a dreamer, no, Flannery likes to take stock of life as it evolves, to cut her teeth on the hours she’s alighted inside and not look back nor dare too look to far forward. Past and future are not words that I presume would swallow well with her ideal attachment of her own living history.

As we are lead out of the Prologue, we’re re-entering Flannery’s life in Texas, where she starts to pick up certain cues that life in Texas is starting to repeat events and moments that left her hitching her tail to the winds that took her to West Africa originally. She’s not assured of her own strength to deal with a potentially emerging illness in her sister or the weight of what she had to bear when her mother fell ill in a new cycle of anguish and hopelessness. The walls are encasing her and Flannery has barely been within the states for a day before her flight reflexes start to ignite a desire to leave.

Unfortunately for me, I reached a moment in the story when we’re becoming introduced to Flannery’s ex-boyfriend Santiago where I noticed the words were starting to overstep with one another. Everything was starting to blur and collide, and not in the way that is appeasing. The pace was set at such a break-neck speed when you first pick up Migratory Animals but where you were hoping for it to slow down a bit, to allow you to absorb the facts and pick up the nuances of the characters and what their motivations were for each other inasmuch for their own lives, the novel starts to jump the rails for me! A bit too much of a fast moving train of non-connective thoughts, observations, and little bits of this or that jumbling together to a near incoherent mess.

If the Prologue could have acted as the baseline and set the field for the rest of novel’s arc to overtake the reader on a journey of Flannery returning home and finding her soul was too entwined with West Africa and the love of her life she had met there — I would have staid grounded in this story. Rather I find there were too many attempts to draw attention to both pertinent and unintentional distractive ‘moments’ that were too hard to disseminate where Specht was leading us to unravell. Sadly this novel disappointed me and left me questioning how it could begin on such a strong evocative note and leave me in a sea of confusion before I even read the first half of it? I was quite disappointed because I felt this particular story held a lot of promise for standing outside the regular offerings.

Fly in the Ointment:

One key issue I have with novels that set themselves up to become lyrical in prose and in narrative voice, the writer makes a cardinal mistake in my eyes to insert vulgarity as a method of drawing attention to a particular moment or emotion. Why use such strong language when you’ve taken the time to explore how poetic the world can appear through words that are not oft used in descriptive narrative? Why cheapen the moment you’ve built up to add such a harsh word into the spectrum of where your reader is already taken up residence? I was not expecting to find the word on page 13 and for me personally, it felt contrite and out of place. Out of the synchronism of how Specht had led-in to that moment of having it present.

By page 19 it made a second appearance and I was starting to feel disjointed from the flow of the story as the pace set within the Prologue was going against itself in the next chapters. I cringed seeing the word re-appear as it’s the one word I do not appreciate seeing once much less twice.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:
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TLC Book Tours | Tour Host

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Whenever I find a novel I simply feel could benefit from a reader who can appreciate it more than I can myself, I am adding the title to my List on Riffle entitled: Stories Seeking Love from Readers. I have included “Migratory Animals” as I was simply disappointed where the story segued out from where I was hoping it would take me in the end. My initial joy in reading the story ended before the mid-way point, but I am hoping another reader who regularly reads literary fiction such as this will find something inside the story to anchour them rather than find their heart took flight like mine did.

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Migratory Animals”, author photograph, author biography, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission.  Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

Tweets shared on behalf of “Migratory Animals”:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 11 February, 2015 by jorielov in 21st Century, ARC | Galley Copy, Blog Tour Host, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Fly in the Ointment, Literary Fiction, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, TLC Book Tours, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

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