on April 21, 2010
I cannot recommend this book enough. The book is good, and the writing style of the author fantastic. As an added bonus, the story takes place in Boston, and as a former resident of that great city, I can relate immensely with many of locations described in the book.
The story is really two stories. Half of the book details our hero Adam March's rise and fall within corporate America. Without giving anything anyway, Adam suffers a nervous breakdown at work which results in him losing his job. This starts a cascade of events that eventually results in Adam losing everything. The rest of this story chronicles his comeback from the abyss, as well as offering glimpses into his background that explain the reason why he is who is.
The other half of the story is told from from the perspective of a Pitt bull who started his life out as dog fighter. He is eventually rescued, and adopted by Adam March. The rest of the story chronicles the bonding process between this dog and Adam in beautiful detail. As a dog owner and animal lover, I found everything that the author described as far as the dog's thinking to be extremely believable, and not unreasonable.
In short, this story was extremely moving, and I found myself tearing up at several points in the book. I have a few key takeaways after reading this story - (1) Don't judge a book by it's cover. Pitt bulls are great dogs, and I think if you are able and in the market for a great dog, you should consider taking one of these guys into your home, and (2) dog fighting is abomination, and those engaged in this practice should be thrown in prison for life.
This book held my attention as soon as I started reading. Author Susan Wilson combines skilled writing with plot strategems that will positively be called "classic" and negative derided as "trite," depending on your perspective.
The book begins with a scenario in an animal shelter with a clever twist. We soon meet Adam March, a demanding self-centered CEO candidate of a prestigious company. March is the stereotypical man on the way up, owning three homes with a "money is no object" lifestyle.
One day, following an accidnetal emotional trigger, he commits an act that has legal, moral and financial consequences. He loses everything and ultimately finds a new life through working at a homeless shelter and yes, inadvertently adopting a dog. His pit bull mix also has been cast out by society and also experiences trouble escaping his past (sometimes literally). There's even a romantic connection to Adam, his new life, and of course, the dog.
I read the book before reading reviews, barely skimming the book jacket blurb. It's a tribute to the author that I didn't find myself questioning the plot, characters or setting. I wanted escape fiction and there it was. The pacing and suspense were flawless. The ending was plausible...just.
Inevitably this book will be compared to Garth Stein's Art of Racing in the Rain. Stein's writing is tighter and more lyrical. His book is much more painful to read, but also has stronger descriptions of the environment and some truly memorable passages.
One Good Dog should stand on its own. If I were looking for comparisons, I'd compare it more to Lost & Found by Jacqueline Sheehan, rather than Racing in the Rain.
on March 24, 2010
It has been a while since a book really held my attention to the point of missing sleep and thinking about it in the middle of the day like this one did. It was a bit predictable but that didn't matter. I saw the charactors and felt a part of the story. It was about each finding resolution after a lifetime of hardknocks. Also about the bond that grows creating a better life for both of them. It really touched my heart.
on March 29, 2010
In the tradition of Marley and Me and The Art of Racing in the Rain, One Good Dog is a moving book about how a dog changes a human's life for the better.
Adam March, a ruthless, self-made Boston millionnaire seems to have it all, living a picture perfect life, surrounded by wealth and privilege. Then, in one instant, all of that changes, and he finds himself alone, unemployed, and doing community service in a homeless shelter. Chance, a pit bull mix bred as a fighting dog, living in a dark and vicious world, takes a random moment to escape from his captors. Human and dog come together, and as One Good Dog unfolds, both fight for a chance at a new life. This is a tale of love, loyalty, new discoveries, and redemption, told from the point of view of Adam March, but also from the point of view of Chance, the former fighting dog.
Wilson masterfully lets Chance tell the story in his own words. Some of the passages describing his fighting life are disturbing, but his gradual introduction to the world of being a pet dog are charming and heartwarming. I found this book hard to put down. The narrative from the two different points of views fascinated me and added to the pace of the story. You'll find yourself routing for the initially extremely unlikeable character of Adam March and for the dog with the rough beginning.
Entertaining, moving, and heartwarming, fans of dog memoirs, or pet memoirs in general, will thoroughly enjoy this book.
on May 7, 2010
Adam March, the main human character in One Good Dog by Susan Wilson, is arrogant, pompous and superficial--yet strangely sympathetic.
His deprived youth has led him to an adult world where he feels he must play by someone else's rules. And he is very good at the game. He is rising in the corporate world, accumulating the symbols of wealth and power until a memory from childhood causes him to snap. In that moment he loses it all.
Instead of a jail sentence the judge gives the arrogant Adam community service to work in a center feeding the homeless. Life becomes a humiliating series of bleak, lonely days for him where he begins to see no way out.
The book alternates between a third person narrative of Adam's tribulations and a first person channeling of a most delightfully charming Pit Bull with a heart of gold (except for his desire to fight most of the dogs he meets).
Chance, as he is later named, tells us he was raised in a cage in a dark cellar as a fighting dog. In spite of scars and a mostly missing ear, he lets us know he was quite a gladiator. After making an escape, for a brief time he becomes a free dog of the streets, making fun of dogs subservient to humans. Then he is captured and bound for death row at the shelter.
The two social outcasts meet by chance and change the course of each other's lives. The more Adam communes with the dog, the more he understands what is important in life. The fighting Pit Bull, raised without human affection, understands how much his human needs him.
I won't spoil the ending except to say while it isn't sunshine and flowers, I didn't suffer Old Yeller Syndrome.
One Good Dog is easy to get into and I didn't want to put it down as it moved along comfortably predictable without the sentimentality that often creeps into dog books. "Predictable" isn't meant to be a negative.
I couldn't help but think that if Jay Gatsby had found a dog to love, he would have seen that there was more to life than pursuing the very shallow Daisy and all that she represented. And he'd be alive today.
I recommend the book to anyone who has ever had a dog in their lives--or needed one.
This is a wonderful book about the bond created between a man and a rather independent minded canine named Chance, who comes to being considered a companion to a human as a whole lot better life than the one he was brought up in, which was the world of illegal dog fighting. The main characters in the story besides the dog are his human companion, Adam March, Gina De Marco, a pet shop owner and Adam's eventual soul mate, Charles Abernathy, aka Jupe - who causes the problems leading up to the surprising but very intriguing, tear-jerker ending. More minor characters are Adam's spoiled teenage daughter, Ariel, and his even more spoiled ex-wife Sterling. Early in the book we find Adam as a poor kid who makes good through hard work and brains and who is on track to become the CEO of a moderate sized company with plenty of perks that he thought he always wanted. His road to prosperity is ruined in an intemperate moment when he slaps a female subordinate, Sophie, through no fault of her own. Adam's fall from grace and ultimate rise is paralleled by Chance's rise from dog fighting to Adam's companion, his fall again, and his ultimate achievement of happiness and equanimity with a human that he never thought he could do much more than ever tolerate for the food and shelter given him. It is a wonderful and very poignant story of the parallels of these two lives. This is the second book of this author's I have read and I enjoyed it every bit or more than her latest book "The Dog Who Danced", which I also reviewed and heartily recommend. A must read for dog people!
on June 8, 2010
This book had a great theme and since I am involved in dog rescue I really wanted to love it and recommend it to others. However, I was so distracted by the totally unrealistic "voice" of the dog, that I couldn't even finish reading it. I think the author would have done better to put the dog's part in the story in third person instead of first person. Or at least make it sound like it is coming from a dog, whose mentality is more of that of a 2 or 3 yr old, not a college graduate. When I got to chapter 27 and the dog said "I prefer an olfactory perambulation ..." I had to give it up. I don't even know what a perambulation is and I'm pretty sure a dog doesn't either. It just wasn't believable and I guess I prefer a book whose characters are believable along with a good story line rather than JUST a good story line.
on March 13, 2010
I highly recommend "One Good Dog." It is a story that will tear at your heart strings and make you believe in the good in all creatures. Not just for dog lovers, this book has universal appeal because it speaks to the various bonds we create in our lives.
on August 11, 2013
As an owner of two very lovable rescues, I was drawn to this book and just had to read it. As a national bestseller and a catchy cover story, it made it to my must-read list. Big mistake.
At first, I was immediately hooked and raced through the first few chapters of One Good Dog. Unfortunately, it started to slow down about halfway through and even when I finished reading the entire book I felt like I stopped before I finished it. If this was a romance novel, the plot would have been entirely predictable. Boy gets in trouble, falls from grace and is forced to eat some humble pie. Then, a girl comes along, who is just as battered, and together they ride off into the sunset. But in this book, the girl is a dog and there is no “riding into the sunset” because there is not an ending.
The whole book was reliant on the promise of a great storyline. There were so many great beginnings that were either not followed up on or finished up so quickly that it didn’t do justice to its potential.
For a national bestseller, I was really disappointed. The best part of this book is that it has told, at times, from the point of view of the dog. I really enjoyed all of the parts about the dog. Chance’s story was the only one that that had both a beginning and an end. If it weren’t for his chapters, I probably wouldn’t have made it past the 3rd chapter.
SO, if you love dogs and aren’t picky about storylines, this is the book for you. If you like dogs AND want a storyline that has a beginning, middle and end, then consider this your warning.
on April 9, 2010
I give 5 Stars for a book that's a keeper on my shelf, to be savored & re-read, discovering new layers and perspectives. This book is not that. This would qualify as a fast beach read: light, good pace & suspenseful moments.
Too many good moments got "glossed over" for me; where there could have been more depth and emotion, left me feeling "flat." Adam's complete & utter fall from grace felt implausible (for a guy with 3 houses & servants for each, I think this case would've been settled out of court and the story would've ended by page 5). The stakes just weren't high enough for Adam's descent into poverty and unemployment.
I think the "bird's eye view" narrative kept me from getting steeped in the story. I cared about the characters, but I didn't cry or feel their pain or joy. Even the dog's thoughts didn't draw me in.
The story had potential to be great, but just fell short.