I hate giving a bad review but I really can’t recommend this book. It sounded like a fun and lighthearted look at relationships with our pets and our families/friends. What it ended up being was a really sad modern-day fictional story about a vet who was not very likable.
Bob Heller is popular veterinarian in New York City who writes a weekly pet advice column as well as making appearances on a national morning news show. This is the story of his life through middle age. He says that he has a hard time relating to people and relates to animals much better but we never really see this. What we spend a great deal of time doing is learning about his relationship with his awful brother and his wonderful wife. Very little time is spent looking how he is relating to animals. He does tend to collect hurt and wounded people. And he himself becomes one of them.
Spoiler alert! The worst part is that his “perfect” wife Anna dies 3/4 of the way through the book. This gets Bob out of facing the consequences of being unfaithful. It also negates all the background and character development of Anna. And now Bob has lots of grief to overcome as he also searches for wife #2, who ends up being a horrible person that I was hoping would NOT come back to him. Ugh. What did he see in her? She is one messed up woman.
The theme seems to be that we can overcome the awful family/growing up experiences that were forced upon us. And everyone in the story has a terrible childhood. I am not just saying dysfunctional families but psychotic and abusive families.
To top all the above, there is a great deal of the use of the “f” word and other nasty expressions that we really could do without in conversations involving intelligent and well-educated adults.
What did this book have to do with my faith? The main characters were atheists but Anna loved one of the local Jewish cemeteries. When her funeral was held, it was a spiritual moment…without the spirituality. I guess what struck me was the lack of depth in Bob’s life without faith of any kind. It seemed to me that he kept seeking something in others– like his so-called perfect wife or his poisonous relationship with his brother — to fill some kind of void in his own life. I identify that void as the place where God could have been in his life. Certainly, God is there in that space in my own life.
I feel like this review is not up to my usual standards but it is not fun to review a book I don’t recommend.
Happy (and better) reading!