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Book Review – A Dog’s Journey

CJ would be unhappy and Gloria would be unhappy. I didn’t understand because there seemed to be so much to be happy about, like bacon, or the days when just the two of us would lie in the backyard, CJ’s fingers lightly touching my fur. 

This is one of the very very VERY few times where I feel confident in saying that the sequel was better than the first book. 

A Dog’s Journey is the follow-up novel to A Dog’s Purpose, which continues telling the story of the rambunctious Toby as he drifts in and out of multiple lives, where he explores the reasons for loving, which closely align with the reasons for living. 

As funny as it was heartwarming, as easy to follow as it was complex, this novel pulled me in many different directions, and I felt confident going in each one. It was such an exploration of love, and, in the grander scheme of things, the purpose for existing without it. More often than not, there was no purpose to it at all, as Toby quickly discovered, when his loved one passed, he felt completely marooned, stranded in the world, existing without really being. Not understanding why he was still there without them.

This was a brutal read. I will say that. The characters were frustrating, I’ve never wanted to Silver Linings Playbook a novel so badly in my entire life. 


So, essentially this book follows CJ’s story, the granddaughter of Ethan, who was the main character in the first book. And CJ’s story was one that I felt really benefitted from the dog’s point of view. 

CJ started eating her meals in her bedroom and sometimes it would just be a tiny amount of vegetable and sometimes it would be wonderful plates full of noodles and sauces and cheeses, or pizza and chips, and ice cream. Then she would go into the bathroom and stand on that small box and make a sad noise. Every few hours, every single day, CJ would go stand on that small box. I started thinking of it as the sad box, because that’s how CJ always felt when she was on it. 

The direction this story turned in this moment really blew me away. I thought, what an ingenious thing to analyze an eating disorder from a dog’s point of view. Because they don’t romanticize it as society has today. They look at it exactly how it should be looked at–a symptom of life, of living under immense pressure, of being raised by an absent parent–Gloria. They see how sad it is. How lacking of reality. And they don’t place blame, or make it complicated. It just is. It’s heartbreaking. It’s unfathomable. 

As with the last book, W. Bruce Cameron’s voice was consistent and nearly perfect throughout. He got the dog’s innocence down to a science. He understood the frustration Toby felt as he went from one life into the next and began to struggle with how helpless he was once again, suckling his mother’s teat, wishing he wasn’t so lethargic. 

I think my favorite part was when Toby went from being a big dog, to, for the very first time, being a small dog. The transition was hilarious, because he was so confused as to why everyone around him was so much larger than he’d experienced before, and why his brothers and sisters weren’t as alarmed as he was. The way W. Bruce Cameron introduced new variables like a smaller size, or a new location, was always brilliant. Brilliant in an understated way.

It did not seem right that a dog should be the same size as a duck. 

There was so much loss and love and irreparable broken pieces hidden in this book. I couldn’t believe how miserable these lives were. How lost and confused. It gave new purpose to the dog, which we didn’t get in the last book. Where he seemed heroic in A Dog’s Purpose, Toby was practically God in A Dog’s Journey. Or… I don’t know how to describe it. There until the very end. Always protecting. 

One afternoon Bob was alone in his bed and I could feel him easing away from his life. The warm waters were rising up around Bob, washing away his pains. 

It was just such a magnificent way to escape life and fall back into it with simplicity, with the sense that life is a flow of sorts, and as it rises, it doesn’t drown you, it simply tucks you in. It folds its phantom limbs around you and promises you eternity. 



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