Marley and Me (Review)

Labels: A Lighter Touch

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Marley and Me
John Grogan, 2005
305 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
January 2007

My friend Nan called to say she was giving everyone in her family a copy of this book—high praise, indeed, because she isn’t exactly a dog lover. In fact, she doesn't like people who are.

So obviously I was intrigued, all the more so because Nan has unerring literary taste, championing books long before critics get around to them. So maybe she was on to something.

Of course she was, and by now Marley and Me is a best seller. On the surface, it's a delightful, funny look at a man and his dog—a giant, unruly yellow lab, what may be "the worst dog in the world."

On another level, though, the book becomes a meditation on love, loyalty, unbridled joy, and intense devotion to life even in the face of adversity. These are the book’s lessons for our own species. Author John Grogan, the "me" of the title, lays down the thematic lines in the closing chapters, turning a hilarious canine version of The Odd Couple into Tuesdays with Marley.

True, books about dogs are always sentimental, and this one is no exception. But it manages to rise above the bathos because Grogan doesn’t let us wallow in it. With foreshortened lives, dogs mirror in fast-forward mode our own lives and have a lot to teach us about living fully. That’s what Grogan is up to here, and he pulls it off.

Although it's not that good, you might play selected clips of the 2008 movie (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston) and compare it to how you envisioned the book.

See our Reading Guide for Marley and Me.

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