Linda Lombardi's Reviews > I Thought You Were Dead

I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson
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Apr 30, 2011

Read from April 30 to May 04, 2011

So, here's the thing. This is obviously a good book. People who know more about books than me say so. The quotes are right on the inside of the book. You can believe them. It is well written, original, all those things you can judge more or less objectively about a book. But the world is full of good books, so that doesn't narrow it down much, you know? So if you are bothering to read this review, the question I should answer is, if you are a person like me, do you want to read this book?

So the first thing to clear up is what kind of person I am. You can see from my other reviews that when it comes to fiction, I mostly read mysteries, with some other genre fiction thrown in. And I read a lot about animals. And I write mysteries and other books with animals in them.

I won this book in the Goodreads giveaway for it (woo hoo! I never win anything!) I entered because, well, talking dog. Kind of a bad idea, but obviously he must have done it well or where did the good reviews come from? But, it's not a mystery or anything. It's a regular novel. Which is something I basically approach with a certain amount of dread. So I also entered the giveaway because I was curious but to be honest, not likely to spend my own money on this book.

So it's not surprising that to some extent my reaction is "the talking dog tricked me into reading a novel about people's feelings! I HATE that!"

So, yeah. It's about a guy, and his feelings about his divorce, and his drinking problem, and his dad who had a stroke, and his relationship with his girlfriend who also has another boyfriend, and a whole lot of people talking about their feelings. I'm probably not the right person to judge how successful it is on those terms. I will say that I felt that there's an awful lot of telling rather than showing in their relationship - like the girlfriend makes a big deal about how she loves how he makes her laugh but I can't remember any scenes where he made her laugh. That sort of thing. But, like I said, it is a book where people TALK a lot about their feelings.

If you like that sort of book, and don't think it would be idiotic to add a talking dog to it, you will probably love this. His relationship with the dog is utterly believable and realistic, despite the talking. And the dog is also utterly believable and realistic despite the talking. She gives him insightful life and relationship advice, but sometimes it includes parts like "if you eat something you don't want to eat, you can always swallow grass and throw it up later." How he talks to her is also wonderful - there is a lovely moment where he tries to calm her fear of thunderstorms by telling a story of why wolves feared them millenia ago for reasons that she no longer has to worry about.

The character, when he is not whining about feelings that I am not interested in, is also capable of nice observations about life, my favorite of which is about the dog but also about so much of what is wrong with the world - at one point he's relating the various restrictions regarding dogs that the town has instituted because someone complained once, and he thinks about how there are so many more times that someone sees a dog and is happy about it, "but of course, no one's going to call the dog officer and say 'I'd like to report a dog - it's not doing anything, but it made me really happy just to look at it....'"

To sum up: I absolutely loved every second of this book that involved the dog. The parts where people went on and on about their relationships, not so much, but it is fair to say that might not be the author's fault.


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