Like Animals makes me think of the Marina and the Diamonds song called “Savages”, though the vibe of Eve Lemieux’s book is more gritty and raw than the song. Like Animals tells us the story of Philomena, or Philly, in short dated chapters, which aren’t in chronological order: we start in 2019, jump to 2016, jump to 2008, jump to 2012, and so on, skipping from moment to moment in Philly’s story of loss and heartbreak and artistic growth. We see her with her best friend, Tania, and with her parents (who are divorced) and with various guys. Most of the novel takes place when Philly is in her twenties and adrift, and most of it takes place in Montreal, but there are moments that happen earlier/later/elsewhere—and interspersed with Philly’s own story we get fragments of a story she’s working on, a dark fairy tale she’s writing and illustrating. You can tell there is going to be drama from the very beginning: “I’m the lead martyr in the cautionary tale of my own invention,” Philly thinks, on page two, when she’s meant to be having a nice birthday celebration with her partner and her closest friends. Things only get more intense as the book proceeds. Philly knows she can be difficult and knows she shouldn’t get so obsessed with guys; she sees the way her mother has gone from one bad guy to the next to the next for most of her life and knows she shouldn’t do the same (her dad isn’t one of the bad guys, though; he’s great, and the parts of the book about him are some of the most moving). The back cover says this book is “inspired by people who haven’t learned to love gently,” and while it isn’t always a pleasant read, I think that’s a testament to Lemieux’s writing and how her words put you right there with Philly.

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