• Staci

Gizelle's Bucket List: A road trip like no other

When I came across this book, I'll admit I was hesitant to review it. A whole book about a girl and her dog? Please. That couldn't possibly be for me, I thought to myself. It's not that I don't like dogs -- I do. I just don't consider myself an animal person, the kind of girl who would ever refer to herself as a "dog mom." Still, something about this (true) story compelled me, and I requested a copy for review.

And I am glad I did.

Gizelle's Bucket List is so much more than just a story about a girl and her dog. Yes, it's a story about a girl and her dog, but it's also a beautifully told coming-of-age story. It's a tale of undying love and how we find inspiration to be our best selves in the most unlikely of places.

When we first meet Lauren, the story's secondary character (we'll meet the main character in a minute) she is a young person on the precipice of the rest of her life. She moves from small-town Tennessee to New York City, in search of the life she's always dreamed of. Like so many other young people who move to NYC, life is not what she expected, however. She lives in a tiny apartment in a not-so-great part of town, has a dead-end job, and not many prospects in the romance department. Oh, and did I mention she shares that apartment with two roommates? One human and the other a 160-pound English mastiff named Gizelle (the aforementioned main character on this ride). Together, Lauren navigates the stormy waters of growing up in the big city, through jobs, boyfriends, apartments and the crazy cast of characters that populate Times Square, not to mention the ups and downs of dealing with a parent struggling with addiction. Lauren knows that no matter what life throws her way, Gizelle will be by her side to make it all better.

That is, until Lauren learns that Gizelle is sick -- very sick. Suddenly, the realization sets in that the best friend she's always been about to count on may not be around for much longer. Instead of wallowing in sadness, Lauren decides to create a kick-ass bucket list of places to go and things to do, piles Gizelle into her car, and together the pair sets out to take life by the horns and breathe in adventure at every turn.

This book is compulsively readable, endlessly charming, and inspirational. You'll instantly fall in love with both Lauren and Gizelle, and you'll be rooting for their unlikely friendship from the first page to the last. Share this book with everyone you know, whether they are dog lovers or not.

This is Lauren Fern Watt's first book. It has been translated into 11 languages and has been optioned for film. Photograph © Raphye Alexius

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