Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
Digital Audiobook narrated by Michael Urie
Published by Simon & Schuster Canada on June 7, 2016
Genres: Animals, Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 305 pages or 8 hours, 4 minutes
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The magic of this novel is in the read, and we don’t want to spoil it by giving away too many details. We can tell you that this is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without.
For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog. Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.
Much like Gone Girl and Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Lily and the Octopus was one of those books that everyone was reading for a while. The title and description were just enough to get me vaguely interested and I added it to my TBR… but I wasn’t so invested that I jumped on board the hype train immediately.
And you know what? This book was good. It was the perfect balance of funny and sad. Also, the little summary does it no justice. Lily and the Octopus is the story of a middle-aged gay man who discovers, one day, that his beloved dachshund has an “octopus” on her head. The book is about their journey together before the octopus appeared, and his struggles figuring out life with the “octopus” and what to do from there.
While I wasn’t head-over-heels for Ted himself, he was a well-written character. Although bitter, who can see he has a good heart in his memories with Lily. And the narrator of this book, Michael Urie, did a wonderful job of bringing over both Lily’s changing state (his excited voice for her was so much fun!) as well as Ted’s. A good narrator really makes an audiobook, and Urie did a fantastic job.
Here’s the thing – this is not a dog book. And you guys know what I mean by that, right? There’s this whole subgenre of books that center around a human’s relationship with their dog, usually of the Hallmark channel emotional drama quality. Things like Marley and Me and The Art of Racing in the Rain. People fall over themselves for these kinds of books, and I think that a lot of people initially picked up Lily and the Octopus thinking that was what this was, but it’s not. While Lily is, of course, an important player… this book is really more about Ted. And because it’s quirky, it’s not as “heartwarming” as is to be expected within that subgenre. Could Lily and the Octopus make you cry for the journey the two share? Possibly. There are some sad moments, but nothing that pushed me to tears.
Of course, this could just be because I’m a heartless cat person.
Generally a good book to read, though. It’s well written enough that it flows well and never quite feels like an emotional burden. Ted regularly visits a therapist (whom he hates, but isn’t portrayed altogether badly) so there is a little mental health rep. I am not a gay man, so I can’t really speak to the rep there as being fair or accurate, but Ted seemed very human to me and his reactions seemed quite reasonable for anyone who was frustrated in love and in shock and denial. As always, for a better sense of how Ted is portrayed, please seek out an #OwnVoices review.
Lily and the Octopus was a great one-time read. It’s not a book I feel I need to own, but I’d say it’s definitely worth borrowing. I listened to the whole thing in a day, so it’s a book that will easily gobble you up if you let it.
Do you enjoy dog stories? Honestly… and this probably makes me a bad person… but I usually don’t? I’m one of those people who doesn’t really understand the appeal of dogs. But I like dachshunds? They’re a little less… intense. Nonetheless, pets are the best so tell me all about yours in the comments!