Monday, January 10, 2011
A Dog's Purpose; W. Bruce Cameron
Title: A Dog's Purpose
Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Forge Books
Edition: Hardcover and Audio Book
Date Completed: 1/7/2011
Setting: Undisclosed (USA)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Recommend: Yes (print version); No (audio version read by George Wilson - terrible reader)
A Dog's Purpose is a sweet story with a favorite kind of narrator, a lovable canine. In a nutshell, this story is about a dog who is reborn --several times. Each life is different from the one before, and in his canine voice, sometimes comical and sometimes profound, the dog shares how he interprets the actions of the people around him. All the time, through each of the dog's lives he is constantly searching for his true purpose in life.
In his first life, Toby was a mixed breed, stray that was taken in by a animal hoarder. However, when animal control authorities step in, Toby like many dogs in this situation, ends up being euthanized. He's reincarnated as a golden retriever. Fortunately, he learned a few things from his brief first life, and is saved. He is lucky to finally have a good home, and his human boy Ethan, age 8, names him Bailey. Bailey adores Ethan, and wants to be with him and protect him all the time. But boys grow up, leave home, and dogs pass on --sometimes without finding their true purpose in life. In this dog's third life, he is a "she", named Ellie, who works with an officer doing search and rescue for the police force. In his last life, he was acquired by someone who did not have the dog's best interest in mind. Abandoned, he is on his own using skills acquired in previous lives, until he finds his way back to a person and place special to him and he is able to acknowledge that "I have fulfilled my purpose".
Overall, I loved the messages that this book conveyed. It was funny at times, and heart-wrenching at others, as the book cover issues such as abandonment, euthanasia, and sickness. It would be the perfect read for someone who has recently lost a beloved pet. For those dog owners, who often wonder what their dog is thinking, this book will give you plenty of reasons to smile. As a cat-lover, I disliked the fact that the author took the position, when he gave his narrator a voice to say that "cats had no purpose that he can see", and that cats could not be trusted. Apparently, someone has never had the pleasure of being "owned" by a possessive lap cat, a constant, low-maintenance, companion, that already knows its "purpose". Despite that this book is very good. If you like this type of novel, my two favorite books with dogs as narrators are: I Thought You Were Dead; Peter Nelson (try the audio book it is fabulous), and The Art of Racing in the Rain; Garth Stein.