First, a confession: I often struggle to connect with novels about dogs.
I frequently don’t get into the story because I know the dog dies, or the dog is way too personified, or the author clearly threw in a dog for the emotional appeal without really understanding dogs, etc.
An Unexpected Grace didn’t fall into those traps, though, and I was pleasantly surprised!
Brief summary: In the first few pages, a deranged employee shoots up his office, hitting but not killing Lila, the novel’s protagonist. It’s an intense opening, and throughout the book, as Lila experiences what can only be called PTSD, there are equally intense scenes. Lila’s best friend offers to let her recover in her home as a house sitter. Her friend is also fostering an abused Golden named Grace. But Lila is terrified of dogs and hesitates. She only takes the gig because it’ll give her the time and space she needs to heal while pursuing her love for painting. Meanwhile, Grace’s rescuer Adam is a handsome fellow who pops in and out to poke and prod at Lila, pushing her to recover from her trauma and get over her fear of dogs.
One quibble: I felt like Lila’s transformation from dog hater to dog lover happened too quickly, to the point of being a smidge forced. For instance, in the span of two pages she goes from saying (I’m paraphrasing), “But, obviously, dogs don’t experience empathy,” to one page later saying, “Oh, my gosh. She’s empathetic.” She hated dogs SO much in the beginning that the shift, for me anyway, needed to take longer than a couple pages.
The bottom line: This book speaks to the transformative power of dogs. I think because the main character hated dogs so much in the beginning, she underestimated just how much dog sitting Grace would help her heal from her own trauma. Of course, it could only help that Grace had experienced such trauma herself; that connection helped Lila establish a bond with Grace and be empathetic toward a dog she was scared of. I think all of us, as big-time dog lovers, can certainly appreciate the bond that emerges. Oh, and (slight spoiler alert, but come on!) the dog doesn’t die.
If you’re looking for a sweet, dog-friendly book to add to your summer reading list, I highly recommend An Unexpected Grace!
And, now, thanks to the generosity of the An Unexpected Grace team, one of you will get to read about Lila and Grace!
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. The widget will load below – sometimes it takes a few seconds – but if you’re reading this in an email or through a reader, you may have to click the link.