The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals (Compact Disc)
This debut sparkles with well written characters, family dynamics gone awry and a deeply embedded Kansas location that is normally not written about. The only-too-real mother/daughter relationship is fraught with misunderstandings and hard won truths. How Mandelbaum handles a bone weary, obsessed and depressed woman on the verge of losing everything -- her home, her daughter, her animals and the entire sanctuary - is writing at its best. Surely, a writer to watch!
— From Staff Picks by Maureen
August 2020 Indie Next List
“The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is a story of struggle, relationships, understanding, and forgiveness. When a daughter is compelled to return to the home she ran from years earlier, she must confront the truth about why she left and whether all fences can be mended. Becky Mandelbaum weaves together all of the threads of this story until it becomes a beautiful tapestry.”
— Mary O'Malley, Anderson's Bookshop (La Grange), La Grange, IL
From the winner of the 2016 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction comes a tender and funny debut novel, set over one emotionally charged weekend at an animal sanctuary in western Kansas, where maternal, romantic, and community bonds are tested in the wake of an estranged daughter's homecoming.The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is in trouble. It's late 2016 when Ariel discovers that her mother Mona's animal sanctuary in Western Kansas has not only been the target of anti-Semitic hate crimes--but that it's also for sale, due to hidden financial ruin. Ariel, living a new life in progressive Lawrence, and estranged from her mother for six long years, knows she has to return to her childhood home--especially since her own past may have played a role in the attack on the sanctuary. Ariel expects tension, maybe even fury, but she doesn't anticipate that her first love, a ranch hand named Gideon, will still be working at the Bright Side. Back in Lawrence, Ariel's charming but hapless fianc , Dex, grows paranoid about her sudden departure. After uncovering Mona's address, he sets out to confront Ariel, but instead finds her grappling with the life she's abandoned. Amid the reparations with her mother, it's clear that Ariel is questioning the meaning of her life in Lawrence, and whether she belongs with Dex or with someone else, somewhere else. Acclaimed writer Pam Houston says that "Mandelbaum is wise beyond her years and twice as talented," and The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals poignantly explores the unique love and tension between mothers and daughters, and humans and animals alike. Perceptive and funny, moving and eloquent, and ultimately buoyant, Mandelbaum offers a panoramic view of family and forgiveness, and of the meaning of home. Her debut reminds us that love provides refuge, and underscores our similarities as human beings, no matter how alone or far apart we may feel.
Take a visit to the wild and ridiculous Sharemore Hotel, and find out just why Mr. Snore is having an IMPOSSIBLE time getting a good night’s sleep!! This book makes me laugh every time I read it. It reads like an instant classic. A story-time favorite!
(Picture Book) - reviewed by Isabel