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[229] Marley and Me – John Grogan


“Marley was a funny, bigger-than-life pain in the ass who never quite got the hang of the whole chain-of-command thing. Honestly, he might well have been the world’s worst-behaved dog.” [277]

Almost a year after watching the film I pick up the book from which it’s adopted. It is not too long after I started reading that I know my heart will be broken, once again. Indifference of time does not make the story any less painful to read as John Grogan reflects upon the little moments of Marley—the nutty, uncontrollable yellow labrador, that are hardly worth documenting on the big screen. I’m not trying to dispute the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. Reading how the words unfold and capture Marley’s life down to the minute details renders the whole experience anew. One might easily get defensive and dismiss that it’s only a dog after all, and dogs galore come and go in the course of human life. Dog lovers like me, in particular, would resonate because they are usually more sentimental. One critics mentions: “If you know someone who claims there’s not a book in the world that can make him cry, give him this one.” I cry.

[Marley] joined us as we grappled with what every couple must eventually confront, the sometimes painful process of forging from two distinct pasts one shared future. He became part of our melded fabric, a tightly woven and inseparable strand in the weave that was us. Just as we had helped shape him into the family pet…” [287]

While motion picture brings to life Marley’s goofiest and most disastrous adventures that establish the legacy of his being the worst-behaved dog, Grogan’s words, with a gamut of emotions, touches readers with the sweet moments of a canine-human empathy. The book is as much a Grogan’s memoir as one of Marley. That the rambunctious canine chugs joyously life reminds me to seize the moment in life. A canine cannot afford the luxury of the denial of age because it ages seven times faster than humans do. While Grogan doesn’t want to give a dog too much credit, Marley has taught his family simple things that really matter in life: loyalty, devotion, courage, joy, and simplicity. I’m risking to be biased and sentimental in this review. Go read about Marley and let the canine melt your heart.

“All we knew was that one instant we were sitting at a lovely outdoor table toasting the beautiful day, and the next our table was on the move, crashing its way through the sea of other tables, banging into innocent bystanders, and making a horrible, eat-piercing industrial-grade shriek as it scraped over the concrete pavers. In that first split second, before either of us realized exactly what bad fate had befallen us, it seemed distinctly possible that our table was possessed, fleeing our family of unwashed Boca invaders . . . In the next split second, I saw that it wasn’t our table that was haunted, but our dog.” [177]

295 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss]

30 Responses

  1. I enjoyed reading this book, and it’s very moving! I haven’t watch the film though.

  2. You know, I bought this book when it was first released in hard cover. I could only read about 2 chapters at a time because I was laughing so hard that I could not see the words through the tears pouring down my face.

    When I read about three-fourths of the book, I realized that I could not bring myself to read the ending. I still haven’t.

    How I wish I had the writing talent to immortalize my labs the way Grogan was able to immortalize Marley.

  3. I’m not a dog lover but i really enjoyed the audio version of this book; touching~~haven’t seen the movie.

  4. I got this book but I don’t think I can bear to read it!!!

  5. This was seriously one of the best books I’ve read all year. It definitely made me appreciate the dogs I’ve had in my lifetime, including the two I own now, and really see them for who they are – in spite of their flaws. It is a definite must-read for any animal lover!

  6. This is one of those books I keep meaning to read and never do. I loved the movie though. I cried for a solid 20 minutes, couldn’t stop.

  7. I really enjoyed this book. I do want to see the film adaptation, but haven’t got around to it yet.

  8. I like reading non-fiction which I think contains some of the best of life’s dramas. I would love to read this one.

  9. As a dog-lover, I loved this book…but oh, the tears! Haven’t seen the movie yet.

  10. I cried and cried when I watched Homeward Bound last week, so I’m pretty sure I can’t handle Marley and Me. 😛 It sounds wonderful though!

  11. Great review! It sounds like the book was much better than the movie!

  12. Matt,
    What a great review. I just watched the movie a few weeks ago and bawled like a baby. I have the book just hadn’t read it yet, because of the heartache of the movie. I will have to sit down with it when I know that I can cry without disturbing anyone!! 🙂

  13. Melody:
    Thought I wouldn’t be so affected since I have seen the movie, but i was wrong.

  14. molly:
    The last 50 or so pages were almost unbearable to read! I had to fight that urge to cry out loud, but tears just welled up in my eyes!

  15. Diane:
    Thanks for the shout-out, I didn’t even know there is audio! Am I gonna cry again? 🙂

  16. rhapsodyinbooks:
    The parting with our beloved pet is something that is inevitable. Marley is a great dog.

  17. Michelle:
    I think animals are like humans in the sense that they tend to make the best out of their time, which is substantially shorter than man. Just to see how my dog just approaches life with joy and gusto makes me realize I should do the same.

  18. Ryan:
    Oh be prepared to have a box of Kleenex handy when you read the book–it’s even more nuanced.

  19. Jeane:
    I think they did a great job with the movie, but the book is what really gives you the full scoop of Marley, all the little moments of the canine.

  20. Rhodora Online:
    It’s a comfort read although the end is not that comforting.

  21. JoAnn:
    My eyes welled up during the last 50 pages. I remembered parents bringing kids to the movie last Christmas, many of the kids ended up crying and sniffing at the end. It was so touching.

  22. Jenny:
    Would you go for the book or the film, if you change your mind? 🙂

  23. Amy Reads Good Books:
    The book would tell the story of Marley from A to Z, with no editing. The movie is cute (not at the end) to watch and can make you laugh and cry. 🙂

  24. Staci:
    The book would be even more tear-jerking. At least to me! 🙂

  25. I bought the book during the hype of the movie but have never got to read it. I’m afraid to read the end, which, like you have mentioned, is unbearable.

  26. You’ve written a great review, Matt. This is one book that someday I hope to be able to read, but it will not be any time soon. The loss of an animal is still too raw of an emotion for me.

  27. John:
    I know I can be too sentimental here, but this dog has lived life with more dignity than some people do.

  28. Literary Feline:
    I cannot even begin to fathom the loss of an animal that has been part of someone’s life and family. I hope you’ll be healed of that loss.

  29. I like dogs more than people so this book really got to me. They did an excellent job with the movie also. I don’t even want to think about my 13 year old puppy not greeting anymore.
    Great review Matt!

  30. I don’t think I could manage this one and I am a cat lover more than a dog fan but I know I would be broken hearted by the end. The Converted One (who adores dogs) is desperate to read this and I keep having to say ‘hmmm am not sure you would like it’.

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