The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Of all the material I write, reviews are the hardest. You would think it would be easy--read a book or watch a show, then tell people what you liked about it and why. Plus, it is not like the creator will care, or likely even read, what I think. Writing a review, however, requires respect, for the sheer amount of time, work and courage it took to create a cohesive, living story that has any relevance at all to anyone.
If you only read one book this year, read The Animators. To explain what it is to open a set of nesting dolls, the outer one being how where and what we come from shapes us. Next: friendship, then work, then partnership, then success and its consequences both welcome and un, then substance abuse, then grief and loss, also family, the meanness of New York and hopelessness of hillbilly poverty, and love (mutual, not mutual, enduring), and redemption, and at the center, what makes art and what it is like, at least for Sharon and Mel (the main characters) to live a creative life. Or maybe the order is reversed, and certainly the priority of themes is a function of the reader, but that doesn't matter. It's all there to be enjoyed, ruminated over, revisited. The amount of potty-mouthed melodrama in the book is forgivable.
When I read, I underline, passages, sentences, words that speak to me or that are so beautifully written that I want to be able to find them again. There is underline-worthy material throughout this book, but one passage from the end fits here, on this site where I claim that it's all of a piece, the art, the books I read, and, I forgot to mention, the down time (both voluntary and un). It is a passage I hope to god is true:
The work will always be with you, will come back to you if it leaves, and you will return to it to find that you have, in fact, gotten better, gotten sharper. It happens to you while you are asleep inside.