Lily and the OctopusLily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
My rating: 4/5 cats
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i added this book to my to-read list back when i heard about it, but it was one of those wobbly to-read intentions – the plan was to wait for it to be released and check out the reviews on here before committing one way or another. in general, books whose blurbs gush about how “moving” the story is and gleefully relate how many tissues you will need to get through it are not a selling point for me. books that are “heartbreaking” never break my heart because it’s hard for me to sustain emotional connections with the books i read. i can identify where the sad beats are, but they unfortunately don’t work on me, and since so many of these supposedly emotionally draining books are about dogs, i was concerned that this would be just one more schmaltzy, emotionally manipulative addition to the dog p.o.v. movement* where everyone has a good cry but me.

but this book is not *just* a tearjerker, and it mostly stays on the good side of cutesy. it’s about a man named ted and a dog named lily and the octopus that threatens the boundless ocean of their love for each other. stupid octopus.

it’s pretty much a page-four reveal, but i’m not going to go into more detail about that.

but i will say that lily is an absolute delight, and ted’s – well, not a delight, but he’s very sympathetic, and his love for lily is so raw and fierce that you’re just as likely to choke up at the happy-sweet parts as the sad ones. like i said, i can identify where humans will experience emotions even if i don’t feel them myself.

and yet – wonder of all wonders – this book did indeed give me a tear. on the subway, on my way home to my own little beastie-cat, i sprung a leak and i felt one warm droplet escape my eyeball, and it made me so happy! which is totally backwards, i know, but it’s a relief to know it’s not that i’m broken; but that authors just aren’t trying hard enough to reach me. There you are, said my eyeball.

it’s a sweet book, but not a flimsy one. it’s not perfect, but it’s much less self-indulgently twee than i’d feared, and it’s as funny as it is sad, which is a nice balance for a book about grieving to strike. i say go for it, even if the thought of entertainment marketed as tearjerkers makes you feel bored inside. because you never know – it might be the day your own plumbing breaks down!

at any rate, there’s some cuteness to be had:


“That is a suitcase. I have to put my things in it so I can travel.”

“Great. I’m already in it, so you’re ready to go!”

“Sadly, I can’t have you in it. It’s for my clothes and shoes and shaving kit.”

“Why can’t I be in it? I am one of your things!”

I sat down beside the suitcase and scratched the back of her head, between her ears. “You are, in fact, my most treasured thing.” She raised her nose in the air and squinted her eyes. “But you’re going to stay nearby and have an adventure of your own.”

Lily looked at me with her soulful, almond-shaped eyes. “We’re going on different adventures?”

oh my god awwwwwww

maggie is my most treasured thing.

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*when everyone knows that the ONLY good book that has a dog p.o.v. is Heroic Measures. which is also a dachshund, come to think of it.




and twenty pages to go! thank you for making me cry, book!


you want me to cry, book?? go on, let’s see whatchoo got… do your worst.

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