This book. Man. If you have ever lost a beloved pet and are struggling with the resulting grief, this book helps. That's not necessarily the intent of the book, but inadvertently I found myself really connecting with the story and getting caught up in the emotions. There's a certain comfort that comes from the unfolding of this canine being's multiple lives.
The story follows the being (I say being because this dog is not always male) of one dog as it travels through different lives, while questioning and trying to understand what the purpose of each of its experiences are. Along the way, he connects with a boy named Ethan on such a level that the memories and love are a continuing thread throughout the subsequent lives he leads. That love is a driving force in his discovery of the purpose of each of his reincarnations. All previous lives building upon each other to give the dog a skill set that will help him in his ultimate and final purpose.
The author does a fantastic job of telling the story from the dog's perspective. From the confusion of being a puppy and learning humans' expectations, to how a scent discrimination dog perceives the world and puzzles out what is expected of her. Through it all is a loving connection between a dog and their person and how that bond carries on from one life to the next. This, for me, is what gave me a sense of comfort. Knowing how much I have loved the dogs I have lost, but having someone put into words the possibility that those loved ones aren't forever lost, but that they continue to think of us. That the love we had continues on with the hope that maybe we'll see them again, in a future life.
Ultimately, this book brought out some strong feelings. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was full on sobbing at the end. And I'm sure anyone else who has lost a loved dog would be in the same boat. This book is skillfully written, kept me wanting to read more and brought out some powerful emotions, and therefore is a book that I will most happily recommend.
Also exciting is that the book has been made into a movie! The movie comes out on January 27th. Here's the trailer:
And yes, I totally started choking up just watching the trailer. If I see this movie in theaters, I'm either going to have to go with a VERY understanding friend or by myself so that I can cry unabashedly in the back of the theater.