There are pet people, and there are people who don’t understand pet people. If you’re the latter, Lily and the Octopus may not be the book for you.
Debut novelist Steven Rowley is a pet person, as evidenced by every page of this book. It’s clear from the outset that author and character alike are taken with Lily, the dachshund at the center of this emotional, big-hearted novel. Take, for example, the first words of narrator Ted Flask: “Thursday nights are the nights my dog, Lily, and I set aside to talk about boys we think are cute. . . . . We get into long debates over the Ryans. I’m a Gosling man, whereas she’s a Reynolds gal, even though she can’t name a single movie of his that she would ever watch twice.” But 12-year-old Lily has an unwanted companion—a tumor Ted dubs “the octopus.” Ted will stop at nothing to keep his pet safe, but it may not be enough.
Whether it’s Lily! Exclaiming! Her! Emotions! or Ted quietly wondering how to prolong his best friend’s life, Rowley’s characters are rich and relatable. In fact, they’re so fully realized that this book’s appeal may not be limited to pet people after all: Lily and the Octopus will move anyone who has ever loved an animal, but it can also help those who don’t understand the rest of us.