Five Things About... Unlikely Animals by Annie Hartnett

This book feels a lot like The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (although I enjoyed this one more) or even The Gilmore Girls. Quirky plot and characters, small town vibes, and a young smart (but floundering) protagonist. Also: a fox imported from Russia, a dying dad who does some pretty outrageous things as a result of his memory loss, a crazy community musical production, a private hunting compound for the filthy rich, and a sweet dog named Moses. 

Magical realism is one of my favorite genres, and this one has a magical healing touch and some ghosts. 

The narrator is this sort of omniscient cast of spirits at the local cemetery. It is a loose spin off of the Greek Chorus, but far less stuffy or preachy. They’re there, they know what’s best, and they’re very dead.

The main character spends quite a bit of the book substitute teaching and becoming involved with the small class of fifth graders. I love that Hartnett chose to go the endearing route with the students, and she spends a lot of time developing mutual growth in Emma and the kids. 

The opioid crisis was also addressed on the text, with the main character’s brother a recovering addict and the teacher she is subbing for involved with the issue. 

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