Marley and Me

I read Marley and Me by John Grogan. It was published in 2005 by Harper Collins Publishers.
Grogan wrote this book in the style of biography. Marley and Me is the story of a family loving their very naughty dog that I found enjoyable through the end. Even though I am a guy, I love snuggly puppies and the fact the story revolves around one gave me a compelling reason to read without stopping.

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The story begins with a couple living in Florida wanting children, though neither has any experience taking care of children. They decide that getting a dog would be the best place to start to learn these skills. The couple blindly buys a yellow Labrador retriever without researching breeds first. The dog they choose is very energetic, lunges at people, and gives everyone sloppy kisses. The couple, John and Jenny Grogan, names their dog Marley after the late Bob Marley of whom they both were fans. This book is not so much a biography of Marley, but rather a detailed account of everything that happens to the family from the day the Grogans decide to adopt Marley to the week after Marley dies. The story begins in West Palm Beach, Florida then moves to Boca Raton and ends in the Pennsylvania farmlands. Eight months after adopting Marley the couple have their first baby. They have two more children throughout the book.

I enjoyed this book because even though it’s about a dog and his owners, it’s not written for little kids as you would expect. The author uses profanity occasionally, but what really surprised me were the sexual and violent references. It didn’t shock me, but I wasn’t used to more mature books. The author explains how an elderly neighbor was beaten and then cut up with a chainsaw just weeks before the Grogans moved to south Florida. Another example of the adult themes is when the author goes to a convenience store and brings Marley along. While in the parking lot he meets a pretty woman who just seems to be waiting around. She pets Marley and a few seconds later, a man pulls up in a car, calls her name, and she gets in. This woman was a prostitute. The majority of the book is a fun loving story about a dog that is such a handful; even the sternest dog trainer can not control him. However, the reader should be aware the adult content.

Marley does die at the end, and the months leading up to his death are intense and sad. The author achieves his purpose of detailing Marley’s life in a powerful way. One of the strengths of the book, as I said, was that the author did not dumb down the story for kids. Another strength of the book is the engaging style the author uses to tell the story. The novel held my attention to the end and just about everyone loves a good dog story.

Some of the book’s weaknesses are found about halfway through when the story turns a little dull and confusing. At one point a woman comes to the Grogan’s house to ask if Marley could be in a movie. The author does not explain how the woman discovered Marley. Also, when the family moves to Pennsylvania the highlight of the chapter is when the family buys a chicken. These weaknesses are minor and did not detract from my enjoyment because I found the book moving.

Marley’s death at the end of the book made me cherish my own dog more. I have a lab a lot like Marley, although she is not as energetic as he. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend. Every person with a dog should read this book. It is funny, interesting, and heartbreaking.

In conclusion, this is a good book for someone looking for a mature story with a humorous tone. The author says he has the worst dog ever, but that is not true. I was sad toward the end, but the author left me in a good mood despite Marley’s death. The author is interviewed at the back of the book and he explains what happens a few weeks after Marley is gone. If you own a lab you can relate to this book. For that matter, if you’ve ever had a dog that became a part of your family, you will relate to this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this engaging, good story.

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