The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals by Becky Mandelbaum

Title: The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals
Author: Becky Mandelbaum
Publication: August 4, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Pages: 333

SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is in trouble.

It’s late 2016 when Ariel discovers that her mother Mona’s animal sanctuary in Western Kansas has not only been the target of anti-Semitic hate crimes—but that it’s also for sale, due to hidden financial ruin. Ariel, living a new life in progressive Lawrence, and estranged from her mother for six long years, knows she has to return to her childhood home—especially since her own past may have played a role in the attack on the sanctuary. Ariel expects tension, maybe even fury, but she doesn’t anticipate that her first love, a ranch hand named Gideon, will still be working at the Bright Side.

Back in Lawrence, Ariel’s charming but hapless fiancé, Dex, grows paranoid about her sudden departure. After uncovering Mona’s address, he sets out to confront Ariel, but instead finds her grappling with the life she’s abandoned. Amid the reparations with her mother, it’s clear that Ariel is questioning the meaning of her life in Lawrence, and whether she belongs with Dex or with someone else, somewhere else.


**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

A story of growth, forgiveness, and regret are the focus in The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals by Becky Mandelbaum. This is not my typical favorite type of book, but something about it spoke to me and I had to read.

I was absolutely not disappointed. This story had a lot of emotions and characters that you really grow to love while reading. Ariel, the main character, was not my favorite character. I really enjoyed the supporting characters in this story more than the main couple. However, I feel like Mandelbaum did a great job of meshing together a complex group of individuals. I also really like how nobody is perfect. Every character has faults.

I only have two issues with this book. One, it has a very political aspect to the story. There is no mention of this in the synopsis, so I think this could be a potential problem for some because it leans very much one way politically speaking. While I didn’t personally mind, I think that is something that should be pointed out in the synopsis for readers. Other than that, I was a little disappointed in the lack of wrap up at the end of the story. It was very open ended. Maybe this is for a sequel later on, or maybe it was just left that way because sometimes life is that way, but I really wanted some answers to issues in the story that were left hanging.

Although those two minor things bothered me, I would still give this a good rating. The story was good. If you love lots of action and high intensity moments, this book is not what you are looking for. The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is a good, steady paced story about family, mistakes, forgiveness, and moving forward. It’s definitely about growth and how it is never too late to try again.

This is a women’s fiction that could be enjoyed by just about anyone. It’s an added perk if you love animals, because there are a lot of them in this story. Make sure to check it out and other books by Becky Mandelbaum.


Pick up your copy of The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals by Becky Mandelbaum is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. You can see more from author Becky Mandelbaum on her website HERE.

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