A Novel

Fiction - Drama
255 Pages
Reviewed on 02/07/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Bats: A Novel by Cathie Smith Keenan is a compelling character-driven story that clings to your memory long after you finish. A little town in New England is where this unconventional love story unfurls, centering on the life of a woman named Jean Woodland, who likes bats and prefers keeping to herself over the company of neighbors or students. She's lived her life on the fringes of society, and is a bit unorthodox in her philosophy and social skills. The second lead character is Mylo, a nice-looking bagboy at the local grocery with a generous personality who lives in supervised housing for the developmentally disabled. The two of them find a near-extinct colony of bats, and this triggers Jean's activist nature to try to find a way to spare them from a land development company, which the family next door relies on to get by. Their town struggles with what to do. Given Jean's and Mylo's adventurous spirits, they head out on a road trip in an old Airstream. But plans don't always go as they should, and challenges arise that neither could have anticipated. But maybe they'll find a way.

Sometimes you run across a hidden treasure of a book. One that speaks of character, voice, and consequence. And this is one of those books. Keenan writes with a voice that is crystal clear, her descriptions alive and pointed. Her narration and character-building is a skill most would aspire to. As you read, you begin to realize you're in the hands of a terrific writer, and you can't wait to see where she takes you. I like that this is a contemporary romance, not easily defined or predictable, yet possessing a strong, unique voice all of its own. It's the kind of story you love seeing played out onscreen. Hopefully this one will be someday. If you're looking for a novel that plays with your intellect and emotions, Bats: A Novel by Cathie Smith Keenan is a must-read. This award-worthy offering is a literary gem.

Pikasho Deka

Bats by Cathie Smith Keenan is a slice-of-life novel that follows the day to day lives of the inhabitants of a small town in New Hampshire. After losing her high school teaching job, 40-year-old Derby resident Jean commits herself full time to taking care of the birds and animals residing at her place. Fate smiles upon Jean when she finds some much-needed help in the form of Mylo, a mid-thirties happy go lucky guy who works at the local grocery store. Meanwhile, Jean's neighbors, Ellie and Harris, are going through a rough marital patch. When Jean discovers that the Lloyd Development Company plans to build luxury houses in an area inhabited by a colony of bats, Jean pits herself directly against her neighbors. Throughout the whole ordeal, Jean and Mylo continue to grow close to each other.

Nature-lovers should take notice, for Bats seems to be the poster child in the portrayal of the people working towards the conservation of wildlife and the environment. A character-driven drama at its core, Cathie Smith Keenan's novel epitomizes the lives of the people living in small towns across America. The characters are real salt of the earth people who work tirelessly to find meaning and joy in their lives. I adored the relationship between Jean and Mylo, two socially awkward people finding love and comfort in themselves. Due to its character-driven narrative, the novel feels like a slow burn. I enjoyed reading Bats, and I am fairly confident that most readers will feel the same.