Emma Starling is coming home after several years away at college and med school. Well, not really at med school, but her family thinks that is where she has been. Born with a healing touch, Emma’s mother assumed she would be a doctor and everything seemed to be going that way, except no one asked Emma.

Now she’s home because her father, Clive, is dying and hallucinating that he sees cats and rats and Harold,  the famed local naturalist. He’s been forcibly retired and is spending more time talking to Harold than to his family. Emma needs to forgive her father for cheating on her mother. She also should improve her relationship with her brother Augie who has fought his way to sobriety after opioid addiction, a problem plaguing the town. As she nears her home she sees missing person posters and the person missing is her best friend from high school. Why didn’t anyone tell her?

I loved Unlikely AnimalsI love the narration by the ghosts in the town cemetery. I love the quirkiness of the town, and the weirdest elements are reality-based I love how big things happen in small ways. Emma gets a job offer and perhaps finds a life purpose. Clive orders something on the internet and fails to cancel the order. Chaos happens again and again but there is real love animating the conflicts and the chaos.

I cried a lot during this book. I also laughed a lot. For such a small story, it has big ideas about love lasting even when it’s hard.

I received an e-galley of Unlikely Animals for review from the publisher through NetGalley

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