Lily and the Octopus is a book about Lily, a 12-year-old dachshund, and her owner, 42-year-old single, lonely Ted. The “octopus” is Ted’s name for the (spoiler!) tumor on Lily’s head.
And just from that much, you can probably guess that this book is a tear-jerker, and you are right. Good GRIEF, as I read through the chapters detailing Lily’s last day (last HOURS, have mercy!), I had a constant stream of tears running down my face and had to give an explanation as any family members came into the room, so they wouldn’t be concerned.
But this book is more. It’s simply, yet beautifully, written. It details the very real friendship we can have with our pets. It’s a reminder of just how great dogs are: “All of my memories are my favorite memories,” Lily ‘tells’ Ted. “Even the bad ones?” he asks. “‘Dogs don’t remember bad memories.’ Envious, I scratch her on the velvet part of her chest. What an incredible way to live.” Indeed.
Lonely as he is, Ted has plenty of time to ruminate about other relationships in his life and their complexity: “I more often discount (my mother’s) pain and overvalue mine. This is suddenly funny to me, ridiculously selfish, and I laugh and the outburst is startling … Yours is by far the harder lot, but mine is happening to me.”
Lily and Ted talk to each other, Ted literally, Lily figuratively, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less real to Ted. They go on adventures, again literal and figurative, in their efforts to fight the octopus. I really enjoyed Ted’s voice as narrator. To use a cliche, he was very “real” and relatable. You’ll feel you know him, and you’ll feel you know Lily — to your own sadness, as the book nears its inevitable end.
Thanks to frequent commenter Peg for seeing this book on my ‘to-read’ list at Goodreads and kindly sending it to me! It was an emotional journey I really enjoyed.
Also read this month:
Check out more of what others have read this month at 5 Minutes for Books.