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The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
Literary fiction

The Animators

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Kayla Rae Whitaker, on your first book!

by Kayla Rae Whitaker

Quick take

"It is about something I love without reservation—women who aren’t afraid to want."

Why I love it

Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

Here’s a confession that might ruin the (completely imaginary) friendship I have with Kayla Rae Whitaker, the author of The Animators—I don’t love animation. I like it just fine, but even as a kid who was only allowed unfettered access to the television on Saturday mornings, I became impatient with cartoons, flipping channels and looking for "real" people.

So I approached The Animators warily—fool I now know myself to be. Yes, the book centers on two animators and, predictably, digs deep into the world of animation, but it is also very much about something I love without reservation—women who aren’t afraid to want.

Mel and Sharon meet in college; they are artists and outsiders, both trying to escape their pasts and claim their futures. Their individual and shared ambition works in (and on) them in different ways, but they become a professional duo, stronger together than apart—with all the struggles and rewards that intimate collaboration requires. Mel and Sharon develop so much mutual trust that they’re able to take the most vulnerable moments from their own lives and offer them to each other as material to turn into great art.

I loved spending time in their company and I found myself slowing down as I approached the end of the book because I didn’t want to leave them behind. No surprise in a novel as beautifully crafted, as witty, and as original as The Animators.

The Animators does something I wish more novels did: offers up a distinct creative vision that only exists between the covers of the book. What a thrill, that moment when you understand that the author is not only inviting you into a world only she can build, but also inviting you to participate in imagining that world. Oh, how I wish I could see Sharon’s and Mel’s creations on the screen, but having them play on a loop in my head was intoxicating. The Animators will steal your heart and break it a little, just like all great art can and should.

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Member thoughts

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All (1386)
Love (724)
Like (494)
Dislike (168)
1503 ratings
  • 48% Love
  • 33% Like
  • 11% Dislike
  • Brooklyn , NY

    As someone who knows a lot of animators, I found this refreshing and relatively free of cliches. It managed to surprise me — both in plot and character, rare for a debut. It leaves a lot to discuss.

  • Palos hills, IL

    Interesting characters make this book a fun read. There's a lot of 90s pop-cultural references that readers of certain ages may not get, but hopefully they go buy a Joy Division record to understand.

  • Spring Grove, MN

    The characters were far from perfect but I still want to meet them. Once I started this book I could not put it down, I have no concept of animation but the author made me care and want to learn more.

  • Boston, MA

    This book goes in a thousand different directions but always comes back to its core: a beautiful friendship between two creators. When I was done reading this book I missed the characters immediately.

  • Austin, TX

    Dramatic, intriguing, emotionally jarring in so many ways. I laughed out loud, hated and loved characters, cried with them and for them. What a rollercoaster of really superb writing. HIGHLY RECOMMEND

  • Carnegie, PA

    At first, I didn't think I was going to like this book. But between pages 100-150, it GRABBED me, I couldn't stop reading. I just loved Mel and Sharon, was SO glad I didn't give up on them too soon

  • Panorama City, CA

    It wasn't your run-of-the-mill women's fiction about friendships. It still had what you would expect from this genre but it was fun. Sharon and Mel were vibrant and unapologetic making for a fun read.

  • Largo, FL

    My new favorite book ever. I laughed. I cried. If you only read one book for the rest of your life you better make sure it's this one. You'll feel every emotion & the characters will become your bffs!

  • Brooklyn , NY

    A book about a real friendship between two real and beautifully flawed women. Events occurred that you wouldn't have expected but the relationship dynamics read true and it was truly an amazing read.

  • Orlando, FL

    I really enjoyed the artistic descriptions and the partnership between the main characters. The deaths and the challenges in the lives of the characters were frustrating and heart wrenching but great.

  • Oakland, CA

    One of my new favorite books. Emotional, funny, and full of vivid imagery and believable characters. Captured the shame of childhood trauma, strong friendship, and the torturous process of artmaking.

  • New York, NY

    I can't put into words how strongly this book affected me. The writing is amazing. The character are amazing. I've never seen someone put best friends on a page like this and it's downright incredible

  • Pacific Grove , CA

    I thought I was getting used to expecting the unexpected in this read but then the story would take another sharp turn or twist and have me on the edge of me seat, so to speak. Raw, real, sad, life.

  • Minneapolis, MN

    Loved the characters in this book and the different plot arcs. That the focus stayed on their friendship and work partnership when it could have derailed into romance was so refreshing. Loved it all.

  • Hoboken, NJ

    "Your life is the people who fill it... and nothing is good without them". I loved this profoundly powerful story about female friendship, art, growth and loss. Mel & Sharon's story is for everyone.

  • Madison, WI

    All of the characters and relationships in this book were intriguing and relatable. The story itself was a page turner because of these rich relationships. I look forward to reading more by Whitaker.

  • Brooklyn, NY

    Kayla Rae Whitaker beautifully examines the relationship between outsiders and the bonds we make, or don't make, with those closest to us. A story about life more than anything, this is a must read.

  • Chico, CA

    I am an artist and animation nerd, so I loved that aspect, but this novel is a powerhouse tale of female friendship, found family, and using art to cope with the dark shit that makes us who we are.

  • Midlothian, VA

    This is one of my favorite BOTM picks. It was perfection from start to finish! I loved Sharon and Mel. Sharon's family felt so real and so much like what I left, I was having flash backs. Love this!

  • Kansas City , MO

    This may be my favorite BOTM selection so far, and I almost didn't choose it. I'm so glad I did! As an artist myself, the journey this took me on felt so real. I took it slow and savored every word.

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