For readers of Meg Wolitzer and Adelle Waldman, and in the tradition of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, comes a bold and vibrant debut novel about friendship, art, ambition—and the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood. She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever. At a private East Coast college, two young women meet in art class. Sharon Kisses, quietly ambitious but self-doubting, arrives from rural Kentucky. Mel Vaught, brash, unapologetic, wildly gifted, brings her own brand of hellfire from the backwaters of Florida. Both outsiders, Sharon and Mel become fervent friends, bonding over Ren and Stimpy, R. Crumb, and dysfunctional families. Working, absorbing, drinking. Drawing: Mel, to understand her own tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether. A decade later, Sharon and Mel are an award-winning animation duo, and with the release of their first full-length feature, the “spitting, twitching tour-de-force of epic freaking proportions” Nashville Combat, they stand at the cusp of success. But while on tour to promote the film, cracks in their relationship begin to form: Sharon begins to feel like a tag-along and suspects that raucous Mel is the real artist. When unexpected tragedy strikes, long-buried resentments rise to the surface, threatening their relationships with their families, their lovers, and each other—and hastening a reckoning no one sees coming. Advance praise for The Animators “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 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 Frog Music “Every artist must come from somewhere; this is something you try to outrun, even as home fuels the creative engine. The Animators is a novel about a pair of cartoonists, but it’s also about the complexity of creative friendship, about balance and jealousy, growing into yourself and living with your talent and trying to actually, impossibly get along in this cracked and unjust world. The result is unapologetic and raucous and compulsively readable; it is potato-chip-friendly and deeply, generously wise.” —Charles Bock, author of Alice & Oliver From the Hardcover edition.