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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Book Review: Lily and the Octopus
by Steven Rowley

Rating: 3/5

This book is a little frustrating. It is at times beautiful and heart-wrenching, other times quirky, and occasionally giggle-worthy, however I almost didn't read past the first few chapters. I'm glad I did. 
The first half of the book was difficult to get through and I skimmed a lot of it. It was slowly paced and I wasn't invested in the characters the way I ought to have been. If I were Rowley's editor, I would have advised him to rework the first half to make it as engaging as the second half. There were also things that annoyed me, such as too much description in places, and explaining things in the middle of intense action, as well as the references to specific company names like J. Crew. The list of terms of endearments appeared too late in the story, if it was needed at all. The nicknames were then peppered throughout the following pages in a way that seemed forced - like too much seasoning attempting to bring life to a tasteless dish. There must have been a more elegant way of handling this. I am disappointed, as I frequently am, not by the writing but by the lack of skillful editing employed. This could have been a 4/5 star read. 
Despite the slow start and lack of interest that almost turned me away from this book, I do recommend it. Once you get past that first half, the gems start to appear. The story is odd, and sometimes feels a bit awkward, but where it is good, it is very good. If you're a pet lover, or maybe just human, you're likely to be moved to tears by the end of this book. It's also a book about a great many other things. I won't spoil it by listing them. Suffice it to say, we can all see ourselves, at least a little, in the main character who is neither Lily nor the Octopus.


These are lines that I marked as memorable (page numbers may be different in your edition). If you haven't read the book yet, don't ruin the moments for yourself - skip this part.

page 157 - great characterization technique - "I liked a lot of Meredith's toys more than my own, especially her stuffed animals and anything to do with crafting. One Christmas she received a kit to make animal finger puppets and she just handed it over to me."
page 171 - funniest line - "It's true that most octopuses are Jungian."
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