Acting with Abandon

Small actions often have big consequences. An act of kindness in Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborn sets off a series of life-altering ramifications among those summering on Hydra.

Daughter of a wealthy, art-collecting father, Naomi has spent many of her summers away from London on the Greek island of Hydra, swimming, drinking, and recuperating from the loss of her job while maintaining the strained relationship with her father and stepmother. Sam is an American spending the summer with her family on Hydra; when she meets Naomi, who heavily influences her behavior, the two spend time with each other and take a hike around the island, where they happen across Faoud, a disheveled man who appears to have washed ashore. Devising a plan to help Faoud get back at her father simultaneously, Naomi sets in motion a series of planned, and unplanned, events that will forever mark her life, the lives of her father and stepmother, as well as haunt Sam.

There’s a darkness to the narrative that cautions “be careful what you wish for” and is demonstrated through the manipulative actions and thoughts of Naomi that are shared with readers. The writing in this book was incredibly descriptive, perhaps too much so, and I found the narrative style strange, with areas of dialogue presented as indirect speech that seemed to be filtered through whichever character was observing and taking control of the narrative at the moment; some of the shifts between which character whose head the reader was in were jarringly transitioned as I needed to backtrack to reorient myself. The sense of dependency between Naomi and the other characters she interacts with was an interesting facet to the story that would have kept my focus from wandering but it wasn’t explored or developed deeply enough to maintain my interest.

Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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