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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.