Lily and the Octopus
Author: Steven Rowley
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Pages Count: 320
I’m not really sure how to go about reviewing Lily & the Octopus. Was it a good book? Yes. Was it well written? Yes. I think the problem for me is that I couldn’t really relate to it at all. I’m sure that there are countless readers who enjoyed the hell out of this novel. Readers who could relate to it and who understood the issues that Ted was dealing with.
I myself have never had a dog. While I haven’t experienced life with a dog, I have experienced life with many smaller pets. We’ve had at least one bird in my family for as long as I can remember. Our home has always felt empty without one. They don’t live as long as dogs, but they do come pretty close and we definitely do grow attached to them. On top of birds, between my sister and myself, we have always had some sort of rodent, whether it be a hamster, gerbil, rat or guinea pig. While these animals come no where close to the life span of a dog, once again, we still grow attached and love them just the same.
I don’t think that my lack of relating to the story stems from the fact that I’ve never had a dog or that I haven’t grown attached to a pet, because I definitely have. Maybe it was the extent of how attached Ted was to Lily that I’m struggling with. To be honest, I can’t quite put my finger on it. I think Ted maybe had a bit of an obsession with Lily. Maybe his mental instability caused that, but there was just something about their relationship that I couldn’t relate to, no matter how hard I tried.
Lily and the Octopus is a wonderfully written novel filled with metaphors and beautiful symbolism. It was an emotional read and I think that it dealt with many different topics perfectly. Not only did Lily and the Octopus tell the story of a man and his relationship with his dog, but it also told the story of a man who has been struggling to cope with his recent breakup from his long term boyfriend. Ted is dealing with depression and heartbreak and all of this somehow wraps up into a witty novel about a man and his dog.
Lily and the Octopus was lighthearted when it needed to be and serious and heartfelt when it needed to be. Like I said, this novel was extremely well written and I think it dealt with heavy topics wonderfully, I just wish I could have related to it a little more. I had a hard time connecting with Ted as a character. He felt slightly over the top and dramatic at times. I understand this is normal considering what he has been going through, but I mostly just found it a little off-putting.
I loved the idea of Lily having a voice. Regardless of the fact that she wasn’t actually speaking, I think the idea of Lily speaking back to Ted was a great storytelling device. It gave Lily a personality of her own and actually made her more relatable as a character.
This novel is an emotional one and I can only imagine how those who better relate to Ted and his relationship with his dog will feel while reading this novel. It’s a shame that I didn’t love this novel as much as I thought I would and that it didn’t live up to the hype for me personally.
While it wasn’t everything that I hoped it would be, I know that it will be perfect for so many other readers!
*Note: An ARC of Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley was provided by Simon & Schuster Canada as part of their Summer Fiction Blog Tour in exchange for an honest review.
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