May 2017, 288 pages
In Paula Cocozza's debut novel How to Be Human, Mary is on leave from her university job and upset by the sudden reappearance of her former fiancé. She's also become increasingly intrigued by a magnificent fox she's seen several times in her back garden. First she's certain she sees him wink at her, then he starts bringing gifts and leaving them for her to find (possibly including the neighbors' new baby!), and finally she invites him into her house and her life. Not really such a good idea. Mary is obviously having some very scary problems.
For some reason, I had a really hard time getting going with this book. Kept starting over and over for a couple of months – picking it up, reading a few pages, putting it down again. We just didn't click, the book and me. But it was an Early Reviewer book from Library Thing and I felt obligated to finish it. So I gave it one more go, and then just read it straight through in only a couple of sittings. And really enjoyed it.
This was certainly an unusual story. Yes, disturbing – as many have said. Have to admit, I was originally attracted to the novel because one of the main characters is a fox – I've always loved the critters and we have them around our yard and neighborhood. There's one particularly handsome specimen who naps in our patio area during the summer. I can see myself getting obsessed with one, although I hope not to the extent that Mary does in the book.
Anyway, what a mesmerizing debut. So glad I didn't pass this one up.
European Reading Challenge (Country: England)