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Around this time of year, there are two things I absolutely love: Christmas and dogs. And this novel promised to deliver on both.
Did it succeed? Well, yes and no.
This book is essentially a Hallmark Christmas movie in a novel. But not one of the newer movies that tend to be a bit more nuanced—one of the older ones that can be a little too contrived and cheesy for its own good.
For me, the highlight of the story was the journey between Josh and the dogs. The book isn’t that long, but we get to see Josh heal and change for the better as he cares for Lucy and the puppies. Together, the dogs and the human take care of each other, and they develop a strong bond that can only exist between dogs and their people.
As for the romance, I feel torn. I love Kerri as a character and I think she and Josh are a great couple, but I think the story would have been stronger if it was focused more on the relationships between Josh and the dogs. The romance felt unnecessary and the two main characters acted certifiably insane at some points—Josh more so than Kerri, although her overreactions during her first phone call with Josh almost made me put the book down.
When Josh revealed that his ex-girlfriend Amanda was not actually dead, I was pretty shocked. He never implied she was dead, but the man still kept her photos up like his home was a shrine to her former life. I mean, I assumed she was dead too—instead he’s just a crazy dude who has a strange obsession with an ex-girlfriend.
And while I’m on the topic of Josh, why does he act like a toddler when it comes to letting his dogs go. When he found out Lucy was actually stolen from Serena, why was his first instinct to just keep the dog? He is an adult human male, right? I understand feeling sad and upset, but being a child about it just made me actively dislike him until he did the right thing and called Serena. As much as I enjoyed the book, that was just ridiculous.
The best-written parts were the interactions between Josh and the dogs—that’s where W. Bruce Cameron shines as a writer. Those parts were sweet and real without being too cheesy—exactly why I loved A Dog’s Purpose. If he focused more on Josh and the dogs and put Kerri and Josh on the back burner, it would have been a more satisfying read.
That being said, I still really enjoyed reading this Christmas book. It had a heartwarming story about dogs and their people finding each other—what more could you want on a snowy day in December?