The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of I See You Everywhere, by Julia Glass

This is a good book, and I’m recommending it, but it isn’t at all like Julia Glass’s first two novels, Three Junes and The Whole World Over, both of which I reviewed favorably. I See You Everywhere is much darker, and more serious, than Glass’s previous work. This isn’t a criticism, but it’s important information for anyone who might read this book.

It begins lightly, however, and at first I thought it was going to be one of those novels about sisters that makes me glad I have brothers instead (thanks for not being girls, John and Steve!). With rather unexceptional parents, Louisa is the older daughter who is expected to be good at everything (been there), who wants a more conventional life, and who’s not much of a risk-taker. Clem, short for Clement, is 4 years younger, wilder, uninterested in settling down despite the occasional love interest, and a devoted animal lover. Louisa becomes the editor of an art magazine after giving up on being an artist herself, and Clem makes her career as a field biologist, starting with oceanic mammals and ending up following bears in Wyoming.

So they have interesting lives, they bicker, and they turn to each other for comfort even though they don’t understand each other very well. Eventually, the bickering turns into their way of communicating, and they understand each other all too well. It’s an intriguing psychological journey. It’s also very sad throughout most of the book. Both sisters will break your heart at different times, one more than the other. Books don’t make me cry, but if that’s ever happened to you, it’s entirely possible here. You are warned.

And this is a beautifully written, well-told story with great depth. I strongly recommend it, but not for when you’re already blue or want something light.

As for animals, it’s heartbreaking on that front as well. When I read books for this blog, I stick tape flags on the pages with relevant animal activity. I ran out of tape flags while reading this book. Animals die in I See You. Some are mentioned in passing, a few are characters. And yet there are some lovely passages relating to wildlife, like the injured hawk whose mate was there waiting for her when she was released after wildlife rehabilitators helped her through a broken wing. There are cats, horses, seals, birds, animals grown for food, and bears. One of the few light sequences has to do with foxhounds, a devoted caretaker, and puppies, in which Glass shows her characters’ capacity for warmth and compassion. But the bears — oh, the bears will tear at your soul. That’s not to say they all come to a bad end, but they will break your heart nonetheless. After considerable thought, I am declaring this book MOSTLY UNSAFE for animal lovers. I still recommend it for animal lovers, but go into it with your eyes open. This isn’t a beach book.

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November 26, 2009 - Posted by | animals, birds, Book Reviews, dogs, families, pets, wildlife | , , , ,

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