Review of A Dog’s Purpose

By Erika Berger

We all know that in any movie or book, the death of a dog is much more tragic and heart-wrenching than any human death could ever be. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron puts a whole different meaning onto the death of a dog. The novel is about the spirit of a dog who is constantly reincarnated with one purpose in mind: to find Ethan, its very first owner. The narrator is speaking from the dogs’ points of view, describing human things in ways that dogs see them. For example, the dog doesn’t understand the concept of a doghouse, stating “I didn’t see how the box related to me, but I was certainly happy to play ‘Doghouse’ when treats were introduced into the mix.”

When the novel was first published in 2010, it made its way onto the New York Times bestseller list for 49 weeks. Ever since the movie was announced for January 27, sales of the novel skyrocketed, and the book landed a spot on the bestseller list for a second round.

When I first picked this book up at a Scholastic Book Fair in middle school, I was not expecting there to be so many tears involved. If you’re a dog lover or just a human being with a somewhat compassionate soul, this book will have you in tears throughout the whole journey. That being said, the book was not very practical. The fact that this dog-soul is using words such as “vastly,” “ebb” and “ultimately” to form well-thought-out analyses of the purpose of a dog’s life while simultaneously describing the weather outside is a very different thing. When I was in middle school I paid no mind to such impracticality, but I reread this novel recently as a college student and I almost regretted it. This book was one of my favorite childhood novels and now it seems as though the magic is gone, thanks to the dog’s far-fetched cunning intelligence.

In the end, this novel is a good one to read for the experience and simple storytelling.  If you’re in the mood to have a good cry, pick this novel up and give it a go.


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