First of all, I am sorry for being gone for so long! Between moving (the worst, am I right?), new work responsibilities, and getting ready for law school, I have been MIA from my hobbies.
Secondly, I received this ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program, and it was a knockout! My only regret is not posting this review sooner, since Jonathan Unleashed just hit shelves on July 5th. Hopefully, this review will convince you that it’s worth a trip to your local book store or library.
Meg Rosoff’s new selection Jonathan Unleashed follows a typical New York City 20-something as he navigates the crappiness that is living in the city while underpaid and overworked. When Jonathan’s brother begs him to take on his two dogs, Dante and Sissy, for six months, how could Jonathan say no? However, these are no ordinary dogs. They see Jonathan’s miserable life- a job that offers no creative outlet, a girlfriend whose perfectionist tendencies don’t meld with his messy brain, and an apartment rented under dubious circumstance- and they decide, in doggy brain style, that their human needs some major life improvements. Can their subtle maneuvers into Jonathan’s life be enough to save him from continuing to make the horrible life decisions that every New Yorker makes? Or will he be stuck in a miserable marriage, deadbeat job, and comfortable lifestyle that will slowly kill him with ennui? Of course, the discerning reader will know how it ends, but this book is all about the process.
My personal take on this novel was a little bit of a love-at-first-read vibe. Dante and Sissy stole my heart and made me wish my cats would steer me in the right direction (wait, was that why they bit my ex-boyfriend?!) and Rosoff’s description of being a 20-something in NYC was spot-on. All of the interesting people you meet, the struggles of a job you kind of really hate but need to survive, and the dubious means in which we find places to live all speak to me on a practically molecular level. The only problems I had with Jonathan Unleashed was that it was a little slow when I thought it should fly and a little fast when I wanted more details (see: last twenty pages of the book), but overall, this speaks to me.
I think very specific kinds of reader- no actually, specific kinds of people- will enjoy this novel. Are you an animal/dog lover who looks into your pet’s eyes and realizes there is much more going on than, “Food food food?” You’ll probably enjoy Dante and Sissy and their doggy planning of Jonathan’s life. Are a New York person that lives for the weird quirks of the city living, like the horrible rent, soul-crushing jobs and beautiful encounters with strange people? You’ll be head over heels for this homage to the trials of city living.
Four waves out of five! Go pick this bad boy up at the book store and get your a** to the beach!