They say dogs are man’s best friend and good judges of character, to boot. In Jonathan Unleashed, the title character finds out all that and more about his brother James’ dogs, who come to live with him when James moves to Dubai.
Freshly ensconced in his first “real-world” job, Jonathan welcomes the companionship of Sissy and Dante. Compared to his own fumbling quest for self-knowledge, the cocker spaniel and border collie seem to be wise and all-knowing. Jonathan hits more lows than highs, especially once his girlfriend, Julie, moves in. Among her many defining traits, Julie doesn’t care for dogs. As their relationship accelerates toward an imminent live-stream wedding, Jonathan deteriorates. It’s up to the dogs to save him.
In Jonathan Unleashed, National Book Award finalist Meg Rosoff captures both the existential and mundane, the ridiculous and absurd of the young urbanite making his way in New York City. Her writing is quick and entertaining, creating scene after vivid scene much like the comic book masterpiece Jonathan labors over at night, after his day job writing ad copy for an office supply store. His neuroses are laughable but also, in a sense, universal. What are we doing with our lives? Why are we part of the relationships we are in? Rosoff’s tale feels reminiscent of movies like 500 Days of Summer, full of friends who give sage but unheeded advice, hipster clichés, roller-coaster self-reflection and improbable escapades at every turn.