Read This: The Dog Year

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I got the pleasure of meeting Ann Garvin through a Dream Bank event, and she was instrumental in helping me write my middle grade manuscript! She is an incredibly kind, energetic person so I couldn't wait to read her book, The Dog Year — it did not disappoint!

The Dog Year by Ann Garvin

The plot of The Dog Year is fast-paced, and the book is certainly a page-turner, but it's the fascinating cast of characters who stuck with me after I finished it. Our protagonist, Dr. Lucy Peterman, is a straight-A, type-A surgeon who's used to working hard and reaping the benefits, when her world is turned upside down by a tragic accident.

She handles this traumatic event how, I assume, many of us would handle such a terrible event: not well. Although she's financially stable, she starts shoplifting, a lot. She lives in denial about the loss of her husband, and struggles to connect with people, since she doesn't want to move on. She desperately wants her old life back. Is that too much to ask?

While dealing with the consequences of "trying to fill the void" post-accident, loner Lucy is forced to meet a cast of memorable characters — some from mandatory AA meetings, some from therapy — all who are flawed. She ultimately connects with these people, broadens her worldview, and learns she is not the only one with struggles. And she rescues a dog!

One thing I adored about this book was how, in a story of grief and struggle, Garvin was able to include hilarious one-liners. Whether it be the funny way she described a house, an analogy used to describe a reaction, a snarky comment from Lucy, or even just a quirky detail from the setting, Garvin continuously made me laugh on this healing journey with Lucy.

The Dog Year is a poignant story of overcoming grief and accepting a different reality than the one you imagined, and how connecting with people (and dogs!) can help you do just that. It also made me laugh. I highly recommend reading it, even as an adamant cat person.

Have you read any good books about grieving lately? I find it such a compelling topic, since everyone handles grief so differently. Cheryl Strayed's Wild is another favorite on the topic.

p.s. The Dog Year is Ann Garvin's second book. Her first is On Maggie's Watch. I haven't read it yet, but it's now on my list!

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