Guys, I have something to tell you about. IT! IS! SO! EXCITING! I! CAN! HARDLY! CONTAIN! MYSELF!
Another dog book! And I've got a GIVEAWAY for this book on my Instagram: @ouija.doodle.reads. Check it out! Open through 8/14!
A boy and his dog—ahhh, love! The short of it: if you’ve ever loved a dog, felt their little paws tug your heartstrings, wanted to just squeeze them forever and never let go, you need to read this book.
Are there tears? Yes, you’ll probably shed a few tears. But there is joy! So much joy and adventure, and so many lessons about life and wonderful experiences along the way.
Ted shares his life with his dachshund, Lily. They are really more like best friends than man and dog, and do all sorts of things together like game night, discussing boys, and eating pizza. But one day, Ted notices something strange on Lily’s head. An octopus has taken up residence there! Why is it there? Does it hurt her? What is going on!?
Lily doesn’t want to talk about it, but obviously, neither does Ted, as he can’t even bring himself to face the truth about what the “octopus” really is. What follows is a journey—both real and metaphorical—that delves into the bond between dog and human, how our lives influence each other, and what it is that pushes us forward in the face of failure, loss, and other kinds of grief.
The copy of this was spot-on. This book spoke to me on the level of The Art of Racing in the Rain and definitely built to the magical-realism feel of Life of Pi. And to top it off, this book kept me smiling throughout; the narrator, Ted, has a very personable voice and I really feel that I got to know him. He is funny and real, but his insecurities and past trauma also float to the surface at times making him have a depth and balance that is not easy to create.
Obviously, the star of the book is Lily. She has two very distinct ways of speaking. One that is all caps and punctuated by exclamation points (see my opening lines) which is Ted’s way of giving meaning to her barking. The other is Lily’s “human voice,” which is normal dialogue for when she has conversations with Ted.
Lily is a very practical sort of dog, protective and fun as well, and she loves Ted. They have always been there for each other, while people have come in and out of their lives, they have been each other’s constant. I'm sure there's so many dog people that this really speaks to. And even if you don't have a dog—maybe it's a cat, or a parrot, or an iguana—pets just have that effect on us. They are always there and the very least we can do is return the favor.
Through eight nautically themed parts (like the eight legs on an octopus) Ted reminisces about Lily's puppyhood, the struggles they went through together, the heartbreak, the laughter, and how they changed and grew. And all the time, the octopus is there, menacing. But Ted isn't going to go down without a fight, and he's not going to let Lily go down either.
There are probably some people out there that are feeling trepidatious, if not downright put-off by reading a book where the lovely, beautiful, adoring, can't-help-but-get-attached-to-it dog character is in potential peril. Let me just say that heartbreak is going to be a part of your life one way or another. An amazing book like this can help you heal, help you train for future heartbreak, help you remember why we put ourselves at risk for heartbreak in the first place. There is meaning in life. But without taking those risks, you may never find the reasons to really, really live.
Rowley has a great voice for these characters, both people and dogs, that everyone can relate to on different levels. He is also a funny guy and interesting speaker, as I was pleased to find out when he visited Denver's Tattered Cover for a reading. Lily and the Octopus is such a strong debut that I expect great things from him in the future. I know you are working on them, Steven. Can't wait to read what's next!
Get your copy of Lily and the Octopus
Find out more about the author, Steven Rowley
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Find out more about the publisher, Simon & Schuster
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Assistant editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.