Because I love dogs and prefer their company to most humans, I couldn't wait to read this story. But I was afraid that this might be a difficult book to read… turns out, it was an incredibly easy book to love. A wonderfully charming true story about a young woman who struggles with an addict mother, surviving college, making a courageous move with a
large big-boned canine comrade, a new roommate, new job, and soon a new
relationship with a sometimes perfect, sometimes not-so-perfect guy. It’s a
coming-of-age story about a girl growing up alongside her best friend and the
lengths she goes to make sure her best friend’s last days are days to remember
The way Lauren Fern Watt wrote her book, just her whole approach, was a perfect way to tell their story. I felt as though I was hanging out on the couch, listening to her share her life. Lauren is a southern girl who is living in Tennessee – something this southern girl can totally relate to – and she moves to New York – something this girl can totally NOT relate to but loved reading about! The adventure that follows these two girls during that time was so much fun! Ms. Watt injects just the right amount of humor and heart throughout the pages. But when Lauren receives devastating news about Gizelle, one of the ways she copes with her heartbreak is by making her a bucket list. You might have read their story on Yahoo – I remember seeing it and admiring the lengths someone would go to for their beloved furry friend. As Lauren deals with heart-wrenching family issues involving addiction, a breakup, and the last days with her constant companion, she does it with an incredible amount of love and grace.
And the best friend who saw her through it all? Gizelle. A beautiful 160-pound English Mastiff as “enchanting” as her name. I have never loved a dog I never got to meet as much as I love Gizelle. She was absolutely amazing. I related so much to Lauren and Gizelle’s relationship. I have loved and lost several dogs in my lifetime; and though my heart shattered into a million pieces each time I had to say goodbye, I know that my life is not complete without a dog in it. They bring so much joy and that joy along with their unconditional love is worth every tear shed when their time here comes to an end. I am currently owned by a black pug named LulaBelle aka Lulu. She is my constant companion and shadow. When Lauren shares Gizelle’s sweetest moments – like never wanting a door between them, inviting herself into any room or situation to be near Lauren, always having to have a part of her touching a part of her human, and looking at Lauren like she loves her more than anything in the entire world – I couldn’t help nodding and saying loudly, YES! I know this feeling! That’s my Lulu! And when Lulu was diagnosed with cancer… I was gutted. So, yes. There were parts of this book that were incredibly heartbreaking for me to read, and I lost count of how many times I had to lay the book down so I could pull Lulu even closer and shower her with extra kisses and snuggles. But I also found so many pearls of wisdom in what Lauren shared and in her last days with Gizelle. Like Lauren, I will know when it’s time to say goodbye to my best friend; and when it’s time to let her go, I know I’ll turn to this book for comfort so I can be with someone who understands.
I adored the pictures of Gizelle throughout the book, and I found the author’s writing to be so endearing. Her thoughts on addiction are eye opening, and the lessons she learns from Gizelle are invaluable and heartwarming. May we all be the kind of people our dogs believe we are. This is definitely a book you need to pick up. Don’t shy away because you think it might make you cry – it won’t! It probably won’t. Fine, I’m lying… it will. But I also found a lot of comfort in its pages and a wonderful adventure that I don’t think any reader or animal lover should miss out on.
In keeping with the book's theme of sharing pictures, here’s my Lulu:
My squish. Tennis ball fanatic. Shadow.
Lap warmer. Very best friend.
A huge thank-you to Simon & Schuster for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.