From age eighteen on, I had a partner, a kindred spirit. I had a friend. Someone bound and determined to keep me from the worst in myself.
At a private East Coast college, two young women meet in art class. Sharon, ambitious but lacking confidence, arrives from rural Kentucky. Mel, brash and wildly gifted, brings her own brand of hellfire from the backwaters of Florida. Both outsiders, Sharon and Mel become fervent friends, bonding over their love of classic cartoons, their dysfunctional working-class families, and above all their craft: drawing. Mel, to understand her tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.
A decade later, Sharon and Mel are an award-winning animation duo, living and working in Brooklyn, and poised on the edge of even greater success after the release of their first full-length feature. But with this success comes self-doubt and cracks in their relationship start to form. When unexpected tragedy strikes, long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming. Funny and heartbreaking by turn, The Animators is a dazzling story of female friendship, the cost of a creative life, and the secrets that can undo us.
‘An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make ... I wish I’d written The Animators.’ — Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder
‘The Animators is a heartbreakingly beautiful, sharply funny, arrestingly unforgettable novel about love and genius, the powerful obsessiveness of artistic creation, and the equally powerful undertow of the past. Kayla Rae Whitaker writes like her head is on fire.’ — Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author of The Great Man
‘[An] outstanding debut … Whitaker skillfully charts the creative process, its lulls and sudden rushes of perfect inspiration. And in the relationship between Mel and Sharon, she has created something wonderful and exceptional: a rich, deep, and emotionally true connection that will certainly steal the hearts of readers.’ — Publishers Weekly (starred review)