Rating: 5 / 5
Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs is a beautifully written, heartwarming memoir of the life – in stages from boyhood to womanhood – of trans activist, mother, and professor, Jennifer Finney Boylan, and the lessons that the many dogs in her life left her with.
Thank you to Celadon Books for the free advanced copy of this book!
Boylan tells the compelling, searingly honest story of her life, each distinct stage marked by the dog her family had at the time. From her childhood Dalmation who only had eyes for her father, to the devoted Irish Setter who always kept one eye open to make sure the family was safe, Boylan felt shaped by the dogs in her life – especially during her boyhood, during which she knew that she was not truly a boy.
Good Boy is about Boylan’s life – her journey from boyhood to manhood, and from manhood to womanhood. It’s also very much about dogs – how they love us and, much more importantly, how we love them.
Please take caution while reading Good Boy if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Animal death
- Death / dying
- Pregnancy / childbirth
Oh, let me count the ways I unexpectedly loved this book… I would describe this book as a literary memoir because the writing is so poetic and transcendent. Truly, Good Boy is fantastic in a way that I did not expect. Boylan writes so beautifully, with a melodious tone that will just blow you away. I cried in the introduction – the first ten pages!! – and not because the dogs die (they do). Boylan is fiercely honest with her readers and herself, letting us in to the inner workings of her mind and drawing us in with her sincerity.
Boylan takes us through her life, which encompasses so much – her journey to coming out as a trans woman, her family and their ever-changing dynamics, her love life and career, and of course… her dogs. This memoir cannot be defined by just one of these pieces, as each is just as important as the next, and just as compelling. What I found most captivating about this memoir is Boylan’s frankness and positivity as she looks back on her life – she does not feel regret or sadness about those times; rather, she embraces each life she has lived. It is truly special.
Okay, let’s talk about the dogs. Yes, Boylan does center her family’s dogs throughout the memoir. Yes, the dogs die. And, truthfully, I was initially hesitant to read this book because I can’t handle dogs dying in a book, let alone seven times! However, Boylan writes about the dogs in a largely positive, fun way – they teach her lessons throughout her life and are, mostly, sources of humor and love. So, yes, the dogs die. But Boylan writes their deaths with the lightest touch and, really, I only cried once or twice because of a dog’s death. I cried a lot more from the beauty of the writing and Boylan’s journey to womanhood.
I could ramble on about how amazing this book is forever, but I’ll stop here. Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs is a stunning memoir about growing up, growing old, being yourself, and loving dogs and other humans fiercely. So touching, so powerful – I highly recommend this memoir.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs. I would love to hear your thoughts on the memoir in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!