Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

From the get-go, I was hooked on Lily and the Octopus, and I found myself putting the book down several times to do other things, only to pick it back up within minutes to continue reading. From the get-go, I also knew this book would break my heart, but I was trusting that the pain would be worth the joy of reading this book.

I was right. It was.

Lily and the Octopus follows the story of Ted as he deals with the news that his dog, Lily, has a tumor, and the prognosis is bleak. The tumor takes on a personality of its own as an octopus that is fighting to hold onto its home (Lily), and Lily herself interjects her opinions and thoughts throughout the book as well. While dealing with the octopus, Ted is also struggling to come to terms with being single and unwilling to open up to others.

The story of Ted and his love for his dog, Lily, was unexpected. Learning that the octopus was Ted’s name for the tumor on Lily’s head within the first pages of the book put my emotions on high alert, but I was surprised by how much I found myself laughing out loud at Ted’s hilarious insights into life. I loved his sarcasm and all the comments on popular culture paired with the cynical outlook that life has conditioned him to have. As a pet owner, I appreciated his love for Lily and the seriousness with which the book treated human attachments to their pets. The connection between Lily’s health and Ted’s mental state was obvious, and I truly enjoyed this book. However, I am not sure how much non-animal lovers would understand Ted’s attachment to Lily, which provides the glue that holds the entire story together.

The book DID lose me just a bit during the section with heavy magical realism (you’ll know it when you get there) and left me with a few questions as a result, but only because I didn’t expect it at all. A talking dog? Sure. A tumor disguised as an octopus that also talks? Okay. But the other part? It was a bit much for me. However, it ultimately added to the charming excitement of the story.



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