Animal by Lisa Taddeo Will Enrage You. Here's Why

Kelsie Foreman
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July 14, 2021

At BookClub, we think that the best books are the ones that leave us feeling a little challenged, enraged, and empowered all at the same time. A love of this kind of literature exploration is just one of the reasons BookClub partnered with Belletrist to take a deep dive into the books that leave an impact on our emotions, thoughts, and perspective on life. 

For their first Belletrist + BookClub pick, hosts Emma Roberts and Karah Priess sat down with Lisa Taddeo to discuss her debut novel, Animal, and it’s a perfect example of a gripping story that leaves readers in a flurry of raw emotion even days after they’ve finished reading. 

Taddeo’s novel follows Joan, a self-described “depraved” woman who experiences a horrific act of violence from a former lover that triggers her to set across America in search of a woman named Alice— someone she hopes can help her make sense of her troubled past. Joan’s travels lead her to the hills above Los Angeles where she is forced to confront the event that has haunted her since childhood, and she finds her own form of revenge through her own sexuality. 

Refusing to gloss over the harsh realities of womanhood, Taddeo confronts female stereotypes in a male-dominated world by creating a slightly unreliable female narrator who is all too in touch with the formidable parts of herself.  “I’m not trying to elicit shock, but I am trying to elicit a visceral response,” Taddeo says about her deliberate writing style in an exclusive interview with Belletrist + BookClub. “The second women do anything using sexuality, it’s like, ‘Oh, my God can you believe she did that?’” says Taddeo. “But it’s like, yeah I can.”

Lisa Taddeo in an exclusive with BookClub + Belletrist

Not only does Taddeo challenge the female narrative by tackling previously taboo topics like rage, sexuality, and trauma, she forces readers to take a hard look at the moments that shape and define the women in our lives. Because if we’re reading between the lines (and we definitely are), it’s easy to see how every action of abuse and violence committed against a woman has an impact. 

“I wanted to write about how female rage grows out of just years of being told certain things and being treated certain ways,” said Taddeo, referencing how women are constantly told to “smile” by strangers on the street, in an exclusive with book publisher Simon & Schuster. “All that sort of baggage, you know, becomes anger.

Though slightly uncomfortable, dark, and incredibly graphic at times, Animal challenges readers to see beyond the perceived “craziness” of someone’s actions and instead look at the reasons behind them. “Someone that you think may be acting ‘crazy,’ ‘mad,’ or ‘unhinged,’ probably has a scar that has finally come out into the light or begun to bleed,” said Taddeo in the same interview with Simon & Schuster. But by talking about these scars through thought-provoking reads like Animal, she says, it’s easier to understand the experiences of others and heal in a more effective manner. 

To learn more about why Taddeo wrote Animal, as well as gain access to other exclusive content from Belletrist, join Belletrist + BookClub. As always, let us know what you think about the book (and the BookClub experience!) by tagging us @bookclubdotcom and using #bookclubapp and #belletristbookclub. We can’t wait to talk about the impact that Taddeo’s Animal had on you. 


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