ARC Review Book Review

ARC Book Review | Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Title: Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs
Author: Jennifer Finney Boylan
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Published On: April 21, 2020
Publisher: Celadon Books
Source: Physical Copy
Pages: 272


From bestselling author of She’s Not There, New York Times opinion columnist, and human rights activist Jennifer Finney Boylan, Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs, a memoir of the transformative power of loving dogs.

This is a book about dogs: the love we have for them, and the way that love helps us understand the people we have been. 

It’s in the love of dogs, and my love for them, that I can best now take the measure of the child I once was, and the bottomless, unfathomable desires that once haunted me.

There are times when it is hard for me to fully remember that love, which was once so fragile, and so fierce. Sometimes it seems to fade before me, like breath on a mirror.

But I remember the dogs. 

In her New York Times opinion column, Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote about her relationship with her beloved dog Indigo, and her wise, funny, heartbreaking column went viral. In Good Boy, Boylan explores what should be the simplest topic in the world, but never is: finding and giving love.

Good Boy is a universal account of a remarkable story: showing how a young boy became a middle-aged woman—accompanied at seven crucial moments of growth and transformation by seven memorable dogs. “Everything I know about love,” she writes, “I learned from dogs.” Their love enables us pull off what seem like impossible feats: to find our way home when we are lost, to live our lives with humor and courage, and above all, to best become our true selves. 

My thoughts

I’m not sure how I keep reading books about dogs as a self-proclaimed cat person, but once again I found myself tearful over the death of a dog.

“Days in a house with children grind by like glaciers, but the years rush by like wind.”

~Jennifer Finney Boylan

As happens a lot in my reading life, the right book showed up at the right time. One of the prompts on my reading challenge for the year is A book by a trans or nonbinary author. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use to fill it. I had decided at the beginning of the year to use as many books off my own shelves for my challenge–because my to-be-read backlist had grown to ridiculous proportions. But I’d already read the only books I owned that would fit this prompt. I was also aware that I do receive or request various advance reader copies throughout the year, so maybe one would fit this category. When I received Good Boy on my doorstep, my first thought was of my reading challenge. Perfect book for this harder-to-fill prompt!

But enough about me. I enjoyed Boylan’s memoir about the dogs she has owned throughout her life, and how each one impacted her–and reflected the stage of life she was in. This was my first book by the author, and she mentions several other memoirs she’s written previously. There were times I did feel like I was missing part of the story, and I’m sure it’s because she’d already told it in another book. She did also have a tendency to jump around in her story–sometimes in mid-thought. I was still able to follow where she was going with her point, but sometimes it did distract me.

She also mentioned an eighth dog, Indigo. And I ended the book wondering why wasn’t Indigo given his own chapter? What was so unremarkable about Indigo? But then I reread the synopsis and realized Indigo had his own story told in Boylan’s New York Times column. Overall, I laughed and my eyes became teary on a few occasions. So if you’re a dog lover, you’ll probably need a few more kleenexes than me. 

A Song For A Book

On Bookstagram I created a hashtag for when I include a song that reminds me of the book I’m sharing, #ASongForABook, I thought I’d make it a regular feature on my reviews, too. This time I’ve chosen The Man of the Hour, Norah Jones’ ode to her dog. Love these lyrics:

It’s him or me
That’s what he said
But I can’t choose
Between a vegan and a pot head
So I chose you

Thank you to the publisher, Celadon Books, for providing me with an advance copy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Have you read Good Boy? Or is it on your tbr? Let me know in the comments!

Happy Wandering!

2 thoughts on “ARC Book Review | Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan”

  1. Great review! I love the cover of this book and what a great concept for the story! I’m definitely a dog person but I haven’t read any dog books as an adult because I know most of them will leave me an emotionally messy wreck 😂 I think with any book about animals that’s pretty much a guarantee though! I’m definitely curious about this one. Will keep my eye out for it 🙂

    1. Yes! Every animal book I’ve read has brought tears! Ha! One of my favorite dog reads was Gizelle’s Bucket List: My Life with a Very Large Dog by Lauren Fern Watt. I cried like a baby on that one. 😉

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