Review: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
Combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, Lily and the Octopus is an epic adventure of the heart.
When you sit down with Lily and the Octopus, you will be taken on an unforgettable ride. The magic of this novel is in the read, and we don’t want to spoil it by giving away too many details.
We can tell you that this is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without.
For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog.
Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.
Remember the last book you told someone they had to read? Lily and the Octopus is the next one.
Exceptional in its portrayal of love- in its utterly perfect highs and fiery, hellish lows- Lily and the Octopus is a strange, lovely and unusually moving read.
From the first-person narrative of forty-something Ted, readers are taken on an intense, detailed, and no-holds barred adventure of love: a love between Ted and his aging dachshund Lily. For the twelve years of her exuberant, pure, and lively existence, Lily has arguably given Ted his raison d’être. Coming off of a six-year relationship that ended poorly, Ted has a small circle of direct contact: his best friend Trent, his sister Meredith (busy with her own life changes), his mom (stilted though their relationship is) his less-than-helpful therapist Jenny, and…Lily.
When Ted notices that Lily has an octopus on her temple- an aggressive, angry, and hungry tumorous growth- his life falls into an abyss of sorts: of memory, of chaos, of love, and of fighting tooth and nail to kill the octopus. Over the course of an heroic journey in an attempt to save Lily’s life, readers will see Ted fight (and succumb) to various demons. While, at times, Ted’s voice veered on the fanatical that started to wear on me a tad, the same could not be said for Lily’s. Rowley has done something pretty amazing here in Lily and the Octopus by creating and cultivating such a tremendous VOICE for Lily: excited, curious, sometimes unsure, still learning, pop-culture aware, red ball-loving, Ted-loving, Lily.
Overall, Lily and the Octopus is a memorable, singular read. Impressive for a debut- smooth, expansive and experimental- Rowley has crafted an emotional read that hits very deeply at the heart. Readers who savour stories of love and farewell, stories that delve into the bonds between man and pet/companion, and contemporary stories bursting with grand bouts of mystery and the surreal, might especially adore Lily and the Octopus.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and comments are my own.