Rory Ramos is a dutiful teenager with a love of photography who works as a ranch hand at the stable her stepfather manages in Topanga Canyon, California, a dry, dusty place reliant on horses and hierarchies. There she rides for the rich clientele, including twins June and Wade Fisk. June begins to take an interest in Rory—but she is more drawn to Vivian Price, the beautiful teenager with the movie-star father, who lives down the hill, and Rory can’t help noticing, swims in her pool nearly every night. Rory’s ambiguous roots and blue-collar upbringing keep her largely separate from the likes of the Prices and the Fisks—until her stepfather is involved in a tragic car accident. From that moment on, the lives of these teenagers become inextricably linked—are they friends or foes, lovers or rivals?—sparking a series of events that come to a head the night a wildfire tears through Topanga Canyon, and Rory’s life is changed forever.
Kept Animals is narrated by Rory’s daughter, Charlie, twenty years after that fateful 1993 fire. Rory is away on assignment as a war photographer, and Charlie knows the key to her own existence lies in the story of what happened during that unseasonably warm fall. And without her mother to tell her the truth, she must unravel it by herself.
Taut, propulsive, and gorgeously written, Kate Milliken’s debut is a searing exploration of girlhood, class, and fate. "
"A bold, riveting debut novel of desire, betrayal, and loss, centering on three teenage girls, a horse ranch, and the tragic accident that changes everything."