Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht



Austin, Texas.

Flannery has spent many years moving farther and farther away from her family in Austin, wherever research grants in climate science have taken her. The last to Nigeria where she meets Kunle, falls for him, they want to marry but she has to leave. Funding has dried up and she returns to Texas to figure things out.

And there in Texas is Santiago, her former boyfriend who still pines for her, whom she can count on for a temporary place to bunk, a yard sale junkie and a foodie. And her good friend Alyce, an artist, currently living on a ranch with her architect husband and their two boys. Alyce, on a fellowship, is having trouble working on her art, her insomnia and depression not helping either.

Also in Texas is her sister Molly, who is beginning to show signs of Parkinson’s, which their mother suffered from. But Flannery isn’t able to cope with this realization that her sister will end up like their mother, and guilt-stricken, avoids her.

Flannery is torn between life in Nigeria with her fiancé and her research, and her old life in Austin surrounded by familiar faces, family obligations.

Migratory Animals is a story about friendships, family, and the concept of home.

While Flannery is the key character, and whose homecoming brings this group together, it is her friends that stood out. I can’t help but feel for poor Santiago, who tries to mend the relationship between his two best friends by taking them to a cooking class. And Molly who is facing her greatest fear, succumbing to this illness that nearly tore their family apart.

Migratory Animals is an impressive if melancholy debut. It has a little something for everyone – an international perspective, an American home base, a diverse group of friends, family relationships, love, even a little science about snowflakes and climate and even tapestry. It is an emotional, thoughtful, and a little bit quirky sort of book.


Mary-Helen-Specht-200x300Mary Helen Specht’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times and Colorado Review. A winner of the Richard Yates Short Story Award, among other prizes, she is a former Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow. She earned an MFA in fiction from Emerson College and now teaches creative writing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

Find out more about Mary at her website and connect with her on Twitter.

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I received this book for review from its publisher and TLC Book Tours

Check out the other tour stops:

Tuesday, January 20th: Based on a True Story

Wednesday, January 21st: Read Her Like and Open Book

Thursday, January 22nd: A Bookish Affair

Friday, January 23rd: A Patchwork of Books

Monday, January 26th: Olduvai Reads

Tuesday, January 27th: Book Loving Hippo

Wednesday, January 28th: Lavish Bookshelf

Monday, February 2nd: Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, February 3rd: Peppermint PhD

Wednesday, February 4th: Books and Things

Tuesday, February 10th: Tina Says …

Wednesday, February 11th: Jorie Loves a Story

Thursday, February 12th: Books and Bindings




  1. I’ve always admired people who have the “pluck” to move out into the world, away from their home base, and follow their dreams. Flannery sounds like quite an appealing character.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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