STARRED REVIEW
May 2015

Stepping on paws

By Mireya Navarro
So-called “blended” families are a complex ecosystem, where kids can play adults against one another and even the goldfish gets a say about who does what on the chore wheel. It’s therefore not so unusual that one family was thrown into disarray by a possessive mutt. Enter Eddie, the Stepdog of the title.
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So-called “blended” families are a complex ecosystem, where kids can play adults against one another and even the goldfish gets a say about who does what on the chore wheel. It’s therefore not so unusual that one family was thrown into disarray by a possessive mutt. Enter Eddie, the Stepdog of the title.

For Mireya Navarro, it was easy to fall in love with Jim—both were successful reporters at the New York Times, and they had much in common. Mia could work well enough with Jim’s two kids, but Eddie seemed to have her number. Defying every command, ecstatic to see Jim or the kids while he barked at Mia, Eddie made it clear how he felt about the newcomer. When her attempts to befriend the dog fell flat, she began scheming to get him out of the picture.

Navarro’s story is ostensibly about the dog, but go beyond that and you’ll find a layered tale of family love. Mia and Jim know they’re right for one another, but her relationship with the kids never becomes “parental” despite living with them half the time. Jim loves Eddie in large part because he loves Jim unconditionally, a rarity when juggling the needs of so many humans. And Eddie? Mia’s psychological read on his behavior—that the dog is jealous—gets turned on its head by a canine counselor, who helps the two form a friendship of sorts.

Stepdog is fun and often funny, but it will be of special interest to anyone with a blended family life. It’s a powerful reminder that all you need is love, and possibly kibble.

 

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Stepdog

Stepdog

By Mireya Navarro
Putnam
ISBN 9780399167799

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