There are certain actors, that for me are a kind of "no go zone." I'm quite sure you're the same. If they're the star of a film, you probably won't go and see it. For me, one of those actors is Owen Wilson. Jennifer Aniston falls into a similar vein, but has at least attempted some films with more weight to them. So naturally, I didn't bother to see the movie release of Marley and Me. I don't have a grudge against Owen Wilson, I just don't rate him as a serious actor. I find him one dimensional, and I don't think he's good enough too carry a film, especially one with so much emotional weight as this.
With all this bad publicity running around in my own head, I wasn't likely to pick up the book. But it was recommended to me by someone in my writers group. When I saw it in a second hand bin I thought I should give the writer a chance.
Lately, I've been reading a lot of books that have gone to film. Mostly, films are a poor interpretation of the writers intention. They do not convey the heart and weight of the story. In future, if I want a good story I may just pay the equivalent of a movie ticket on a book.
Which brings me to this book.
John Grogan is an award winning journalist and columnist. So it's a pretty good bet that he knows how to write a story. He does, and he does it very well.
He wrote Marley and Me in 2005, it was a best seller. The film was released in 2008. So yes, I am a little late with the review, but let's continue anyway.
Marley and Me is his own, or rather his dogs story, in fact it's both. Actually, it encompasses the whole family, and as Marley grows, so do they. The Grogan's wanted to try raising a dog before they tried being parents. If raising the worlds worst dog is an adequate primer for parenthood? Well I don't know about that. What I do know is this. It is a story of; joy, frustration, grief, celebration and life. It is heart warming and heart wrenching.
Marley is a big lunatic goof ball of a Golden Labrador. He will barge his way through the screen door of your heart, and leave fur balls behind. He was expelled from obedience school, but wins hearts everywhere.
Grogan has written this story with warts and all honesty. He let's us in, even into the most personal moments of deepest despair. If he's pulled any of his punches, he hasn't pulled them by much. He will make you laugh out loud, then give you a moment to cry. You will do both and won't be able to put this book down. Even when you know it's going to hurt if you continue. But he doesn't leave you there, in the end he lets you recover. He gives the reader hope. It's not a happy ending, but it is a healthy one.
After reading this book, you probably shouldn't go straight out and buy a dog. But if you love a good well written story, you should definitely go out and get a copy of this book. I'm certainly glad I did.