January 19, 2006

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Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog, by John Grogan (HarperCollins, 2005, 292 pages)

A

Marley is a yellow Labrador retriever, with huge paws and sad brown eyes, his head cocked as if trying to apologize for something.

In this New York Times bestseller, John Grogan chronicles life with this energetic, neurotic, free-spirited dog. Marley, as it turns out, suffers from terrible thunderstorm anxiety, not a good thing if you live in Florida. He also is a champion drooler, chewer, and digger.

Grogan’s smooth, witty style will have you laughing aloud at Marley’s escapades, at how he gets expelled from obedience school and how much damage he inflicts on the house.

This book is not just for dog lovers, though. It is for anyone who has ever pondered whether the time was right to have a baby, suffered a miscarriage, worried about the next pregnancy, watched a neighborhood go downhill, moved, changed careers, or not fit in with their neighbors. Grogan shares many intimate details of his life with warmth and humor. Through the good and the bad, Marley is always there, always faithful, always keeping them guessing what he’ll do next.

As someone who has had dogs all her life, I had to stop reading the book at one point. I knew that heartbreak was coming, and after enjoying the story so much, I had to wait a couple of days before I was ready to read about Marley’s decline and eventual demise. Even in his grief, Grogan still sees the sunny side of life, and leaves us laughing about what the future holds. An excellent choice for 2006, the Chinese Year of the Dog.

Irene Labombarde

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