Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Dog's Purpose - A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron

Not Sadie. 
"So you got a dog, huh?  You know she's gonna break your heart when she dies."  Those were the words spoken to me by my father when he met our dog Sadie, for the first time. Way to spoil my moment, dad.  How could he say that about such an adorable puppy?  I was so enamored with Sadie that I dedicated an entire scrapbook album to her.  I thought I had never seen anything as funny as when she would bark at leaves that blew past her.  I remember watching Joshua trying to get her leashed trained and laughing hysterically.  Today, Sadie is approaching 14 years-old, hard of hearing and becoming more and more like an house guest that has overstayed her welcome.  We love her, but her health is steadily declining and there have been times recently when I have questioned her purpose after having been with us for so long.  And then I read this book.

A Dog's Purpose spent 49 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.  That is pretty impressive seeing that it is written from the perspective of the dog and like the title says, is a novel "for humans."  This is just not the sort of book I think of when I think of bestseller material. But I think what made it bestseller material was the fact that it WAS written from a dog's perspective. Cameron tells the story as Baily, a homeless mutt of a dog that dies tragically only to be reborn as a energetic golden-retriever.  As a retriever, Bailey is adopted by Ethan, an 8-year-old boy.  The two are inseparable and we get a front seat to all of their many adventures.  It is with Ethan that Bailey finds how to be a good dog and becomes a well-loved family pet.  Unfortunately, Bailey doesn't live forever (they never do, darn it) and is reborn yet again.  (Stay with me sounds tiring, but it's really not).  Bailey approaches life the same way this time, but with caution.  His mood is increasingly pessimistic and frankly he's a bit tired of being reborn.  Can you blame him?  Each rebirth has him questioning his purpose even though down deep all he really wants is to be with Ethan again.  Bailey is resigned to be a good pet though and carries on with yet another new owner and new life, but he never stops yearning for Ethan and the life he had with him. 

It is obvious that animal lover's would really, really like this book, right?  So, what if you are not one of those?  You should read it anyway.  Once you can get over the fact that you are inside a dog's head and the book is being narrated by someone with four legs, you cannot help but be impressed with dog's take on human relationships.  You see (through a dog's eyes) the ugliness of hatred, marital stress, sickness, sorrow and aging from an entirely new perspective.  Not only do you see all of that, you see how even as a dog, Bailey uses his experiences (good and bad) to adapt to each new life.  That is something that we can all learn from and for me was really quite enlightening.

And if you ARE an animal lover (especially one partial to dogs) and decide to read this book, get your tissues ready.  Bailey is the perfect dog in each of the lives he lives. He is loyal.  He is funny.  He is protective.  He is loving.  I wanted nothing more than for him to find his purpose in life and be happy.  He was everything I wanted a dog to be, if that dog could process human thoughts and emotions, that is.  That made it all the more heart-breaking to read and watch as Bailey had to learn some hard life lessons at his own expense.  It did come with it's fair share of humor though, which did well to lighten up some of the more somber moments.  And the ending?  Well, let's just say it was a three-tissue ending.  In a good way.

Unfortunately, reading the end of this book won't be the only three-tissue ending in my near future.  Sadie and her aches and pains (and the other many things the vet says is wrong with her) are a constant reminder of that.  I just hope Sadie can take comfort in knowing that she has fulfilled her purpose in this life.  And for that, I am forever thankful.  Can somebody pass me a tissue?

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1 comment:

  1. I also loved this book. It was one of the best things I have read in a while. I agree, it sounds kind of silly. But it is really lovely. I guess that profound might be an overstatement, but it is much more thought-provoking than you would think. I would be interested to know if it would resonate with someone who did not love dogs.