Tag Archives: life and death

Review: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

3 Stars

If you cry easily, don’t read the beginning and ending of this book in public.  I did so and received very concerned looks from my co-workers as tears were streaming down my face and I choked back a sob or two.

The story is about Ted and his dog, Lily.  They have been together for twelve and a half years and she is the greatest love of his life.  Sadly, that love affair is about to come to an end.  Lily has an octopus on her head.  That is the figurative term that Ted has given the tumor that is taking the life of his dear friend, his companion.

The book starts so well.  Any pet parent can empathize with Ted and I’m sure we’ve all had different descriptions for tumors, cancers and other things that threaten to take them away from us.  Ted’s calling the tumor an octopus is a fairly apt description and I wasn’t bothered by it at first.  But then it got a little out of control.  I think the story could have done without Ted going overboard on the whole octopus allegory.  The “trip” that he and Lily take was really over the top and.  For me, this wasn’t a good thing.  I think it really took away from what could have been a very moving story about a man and his dog.

The character of Ted was also somewhat of a disappointment.  It was hard to feel a lot of empathy with him at several points.  He just seemed incredibly selfish and shallow at times.  He was at his sister’s wedding and was wondering why more people weren’t asking him about how he was feeling because Lily had just undergone surgery.  What?  Really?  And his interactions with his therapist, instead of coming across as amusing, came across as arrogant and downright rude.

There is redemption in the end.  The last chapters were the hardest to get through but were also the most enjoyable.  They felt the most real and the most genuine.  The pain was visceral and heart-wrenching.  The hope at the end was uplifting and joyful.  If the rest of the book had been as powerful as the last few chapters, this would have easily been a 5 star book.  I still recommend this book, especially to pet lovers and pet owners.  If you can get past the awkward middle of the book, you will be rewarded at the end.

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Filed under General Fiction