Lily and the Octopus ~ Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus | Surrey Libraries | BiblioCommons

Date Completed: 10/6/16

Rating: 9/10

I absolutely adored this story! It was really weird, like really really weird. The protagonist spends most of the story talking to his dog and listening to his dog’s replies. He also spends a fair bit of time talking to “the octopus” who isn’t even an octopus. So this book is basically the weirdest thing I’ve ever read. BUT, I got so attached to the protagonist and to Lily that I was literally ugly crying for over an hour. My roommates were very concerned. This book was worth it.

‘Don’t you have any favorite memories?’

Lily thinks about this. ‘All of my memories are my favorite memories.’

I’m amazed by this. ‘Even the bad ones?’

‘Dogs don’t remember bad memories.’ … What an incredible way to live. 

If you haven’t heard anything about this book yet, the premise is that of a single forty year old man, Ted, and his best friend/love of his life, Lily, a dachshund that he’s lived with for nearly 12 years. Lily, unfortunately, has a brain tumor, which he calls The Octopus. This novel started as a short story and developed into this incredible roller coaster ride, for which I am incredibly grateful.

Rowley used descriptive imagery, and his word choice was spot on. I really appreciated the analogies and metaphors. They made Ted’s situation feel more reachable. His descriptions are unique, but not distracting.

The protagonist has developed coping mechanisms to deal with the grief of his dog getting old as well as living the kind of life the he feels somewhat disappointed about. Thinking about these aspects of Ted’s mental health, make looking at the way that he talks to both Lily and the Octopus more fascinating and less far out there. For example, he talks a lot about the activities that he does with his dog on various days. Lily and he talk about boys on Monday, pizza on Sunday, Monopoly on either Friday or Saturday, etc, etc. I originally thought this was just a cute way to talk about how much time Ted spends with Lily, but quickly came to realize that this was something Ted believed was an integral part of his life. I appreciate that eventually Rowley does allow Ted to become a little more self-aware, and the topic of grief and coping is eventually broached by the protagonist himself.

I believe this is his debut novel, and you can read more about Steven Rowley and Lily and the Octopus here.

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