I am most definitely not a dog person. I don’t have anything against them, in fact I love petting dogs when I see them on a walk, playing with my friends’ dogs, and giving a nice golden retriever a good belly rub when the opportunity presents itself. But you see, it’s impossible for me to call myself a dog person, because I am most decidedly, a cat person. But you all know that because I post pictures of my two cats all the time, and my blog logo has a cat on it-obviously this is no revelation, even to those who are visiting my blog for the first time (side note-welcome!). So because I am not a dog person, I am not the intended audience for Gizelle’s Bucket List by Lauren Fern Watt.
I suppose it’s easier for me to talk about what this book is not. It’s not a book for people who don’t like animals-if you are an animal hater, please don’t pick up this book, you will think it’s silly. There are also no unique and groundbreaking realizations here, Watt’s personal growth is quite typical of a basic white girl living a middle class life, and her problems can seem a bit whiny at times (i.e. her complaints about having to work a shitty job in NY city for very little pay, even though it’s pretty much her first job ever). You also won’t feel a strong connection with Watt. I’m not sure why, but I cared more for her dog than I did her. Perhaps this was her intention, but it seemed like she was so busy talking about Gizelle that everything and everyone else got pushed to the wayside. Gizelle was a big bull mastiff, so she literally and figuratively took up most of the space around her.
But even though I’m a cat person, I still liked this book. It’s a memoir about Lauren’s time with her pet dog Gizelle, who is diagnosed with and later dies from cancer. Lauren moves from Nashville to New York City with Gizelle to escape her alcoholic mother, and while there, develops a bucket list for them to complete together once she discovers Gizelle’s fate. We stray into chick-lit territory, as many of Lauren’s adventures involve meeting guys, building her career and partying with her friends, but Gizelle’s presence brings a serious tone, and the inevitable day that Lauren has to put her down made me a bit teary. The connection between Gizelle and Lauren is the real gem in this read, and if you’ve ever developed a special relationship with your house pet (who hasn’t?), you will most certainly enjoy this book, simply because it is so relate-able.
The situation with Lauren’s mother is a strange one-it sort of happens in the background, and doesn’t seem to destroy her family, instead it teaches Lauren independence. There’s definitely an Eat Pray Love kind of thing going on here as well, travel is a big part of this book as Gizelle accompanies Lauren on many a trip, defying the notion that big dogs are difficult to take places.
I’m not sure I’ve given enough reasons to read this book, but I suspect that this is the kind of story that you know right away whether you want to continue with. Some people can’t handle animals dying, but this coming-of-age tale is worth reading, if only for the chance to meet Gizelle. Plus Watt includes some really cute photos throughout, so that’s fun too.