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Publisher's Summary

She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.

In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their 20s ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing: Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel's difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. During a trip to Sharon's home state of Kentucky, the only other partner she has ever truly known - her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy - reenters her life, and long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

A funny, heartbreaking novel of friendship, art, and trauma, The Animators is about the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood.

©2017 Kayla Rae Whitaker (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A wildly original novel that pulses with heart and truth...That this powerful exploration of friendship, desire, ambition, and secrets manages to be ebullient, gripping, heartbreaking, and deeply deeply funny is a testament to Kayla Rae Whitaker's formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page. Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time." (Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest)
"A mix of Beaches, Girls, and Thelma & Louise...a 'complicated', 'sensual, sexy', raw nerve of a 'roller coaster' through a 'tumultuous' friendship...If you let this story happen to you, you're gonna love it." ( Glamour)
"Whitaker captures the human frailties that beset everyone - jealousy, anger, insecurity, trauma, the search for love - and weaves them into a compelling story of friendship, self-destruction, and salvation." ( Library Journal)

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  • SydSavvy
  • PARIS, TX, United States
  • 04-24-17

Rough beginning but Stick With It

When I started this book, it felt like just another of those ever popular young-angst-in-the-big-city books, and I almost quit it, multiple times. But then some surprises happened and it got real. Very real. I ended up loving it. Glad I stuck With it. Narrator was excellent.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Not chick-lit.

I assumed that a female writer, writing about friendship, would have a sappy handle on the story. I was so incredibly wrong. This story is gritty and painful at times. It is not a quick read, which is why I downloaded the audio to assist. It is an immersive story that takes time to absorb. The reader has no idea how to pronounce "Caudill" as it would be pronounced in east Ky. Beyond that, stellar job!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Thank you Kayla Rae!

If you are thinking about listening to this title, do it. The Animators is original and extremely good. The narration is flawless. Kayla Rae Whitaker and Alex McKenna make the perfect combination. There's plenty going on in this novel, no matter which genre you normally prefer. This is not only one of my favorites of 2018 but one of my all-time favorites. I can't say enough good things about this production. Top Notch.....5 Stars....

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Fabulous

This is one of the best books I've read in many a book. Love Mel.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Amazing on so many levels

I have more than 600 titles in my Audible library and this is the only one thus far that I have felt compelled to write a review about.

It grabbed me with its authentic feeling characters and vivid storytelling. It refused to let me go until the very end.

The narrator was so perfect that I am glad I got it on Audible rather than reading it in print. The author has perfected the art of making a reader/listener laugh and sob at the same time. I truly can't recommend this book enough!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Excellent!

Any additional comments?

I loved "The Animators". It is so raw. I actually felt like I was listening to a memoir rather than a novel. Excellent narration by Alex McKenna. This was so out of my normal listening range, BUT I Loved it!

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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I absolutely loved this book!

I finished The Animators a few days ago and I can't stop thinking about it. Book hangovers are rare for me. The narrator was awesome! Highly recommended!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Refreshingly original!

Any additional comments?

A highly original and inventive love story with many unexpected twists and turns. It is a story about art, and artists, and the challenges of living with a talent that is as much a gift as it is a curse. It also delves into the complexities of relationships with family, partners, lovers and friends and how we can never really escape from our true selves. Great narration also -- you never tire of Alex McKenna's delightfully raspy voice!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wow!! Read this book!!

Great story about two friends who become business partners profiting from their personal experiences via animation. They both have messed up families and past traumas... Really good book. I like the way the author uses different words.. for example you think you're going to be able to guess the next word to come out of her mouth but she has another synonym to take its place. Great writing style great story I just really disliked The last 30 to 45 minutes just not a very good ending. The narrator is great and really gives you a sense of who these characters really are and how they are meant to sound. All in all I gave it five stars even though I didn't like the ending it's definitely a must read/listen.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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This is a story about much more than cartoons

I'm not a big fan of animation, animé, manga, comics, or even graphic novels, but I decided to take a friend's recent advice and choose a book by its cover. Luckily for me, The Animators contained an interesting and well-told story within its covers. Two women, Melody Vaught and Sharon Kisses, meet in college and become friends and partners in animating short films that tell the stories of their lives. Both women grew up in almost unbelievably awful families, and Mel and Sharon are both grateful to find another person that understands them so well.

"I don’t know if it was the cartoons themselves, or watching them with Mel, but that night was the closest I had felt to knowing what I wanted from my life. She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever."

Sharon and Mel's long-lived collaboration and deep friendship results in some career success, but they also face personal dangers inherent in accepting the things your soulmate does, especially if those things are destructive behaviors. This is an original story, with humor, unexpected drama, interesting musings about art, some incredible dysfunction, and lots of great writing about trust, friendship, and healing.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 04-17-17

Great book, great reading

This was one of the most original and engaginf stories I have read for a long time. Fantastic characters, surprising plot, engaging dialogue and FANTASTIC narration .