Before I cracked the cover, I really wasn’t all the way on board with this. Another dog book? Another book with that annoying “all the feels” phrase attached to it on Goodreads reviews? I’m not a sucker. I don’t fall in for maudlin claptrap.
But something about that title. There’s an octopus in there. I thought, I may have to investigate this after all.
And I’m so glad I did. I LOVED IT.
This book actually made me laugh out loud, and then, later, much to my embarrassment, cry out loud. I want to hug Steven Rowley and let the hug linger just a little bit too long. I hated that my life was getting in the way of my reading this book. “I can’t go to work today! I need to know how Lily’s doing! How can I possibly leave the house when that damn octopus is still there?!”
It’s part semi-memoir and part magical realism, or, more accurately, part denial and part unconscious acceptance, which is something we can all relate to. This is a step-by-step to letting go. And Lily’s voice just made me smile the entire time. There are many fantastical elements: Lily converses, the octopus glares and growls, and there’s even a glorious battle at sea.
Just a warning: don’t read this book in public. At one point, I looked up (just so I could get a grip and breathe) and people are staring at me with concerned looks on their faces, wondering if they should intervene or at least offer me a Kleenex. I just smiled sheepishly. “Allergies. They get me every spring! What can you do, ya know?” I blew my nose and pretended nonchalance, while inside me my heart was being wrenched into Lily-sized pieces.
Rowley’s writing is original. This story doesn’t ride the crest of accepted tropes. There’s an adventure here, one that you’ll want to take. I fell in love with Lily and you will too, even if you go into this thinking you won’t. You’ll love this. Guaranteed. Go home, read it, and scritch your dog behind the ears. You know she loves that.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for this advance copy.