When I requested a review copy of The Pug List, the following things appealed to me:
- A story about the redemptive power of pets of which I’m a believer
- An account of relying on one’s faith to survive hard times, since I’m a Believer
I didn’t realize the following until after I received it, which made me look forward to reading it even more.
- The author Alison Hodgson is a Moth StorySLAM winner, which means she’s probably funny, but definitely can tell a story and connect with an audience
- I guess I knew it was a memoir when I requested it, but when I received it and it sat on my TBR shelf, I started thinking it was a novel, so I was surprised once I started reading.
The first chapter is called “Before,” and it puts us right in the present of Alison Hodgson, and the reality of that ignorant bliss, focusing on things that later seemed so inconsequential. Anyone can relate to that. We’ve all been blindsided by something that changes our perspective immediately, whether it’s a cancer diagnosis, the loss of a job, a break in a relationship, or a natural disaster.
She quickly gets to the defining moment — waking in the middle of the night with her whole family in the house to fire alarms clanging and the ultimate realization that her house is on fire. Hodgson shares honestly. She gives details which helped me to understand the true ongoing trauma but never gets tedious or whiny as some memoirs can become.
Her faith is a big part of what helps her survive, as it is for me when I’m in a rough patch, but she shares this element of her struggle in a full manner as well. It never felt as if she was trying to be preachy or holier-than-thou. There are definitely aspects that anyone can take for themselves when facing a difficult situation, but mostly this is just an interesting and heartfelt story about a family’s transition — after surviving a fire and rebuilding, through adolescence, through adding a dog to their family and ultimately, a second dog.
Most of us will not ever have to rebuild our home and our family after a house fire, but Hodgson shares other stories of struggles that they’ve had to overcome to which anyone can identify. I think reading her story will also help me to relate to others going through trials, remembering that regardless how people are holding up on the outside, that tragedy is wearying, and they need support, and help, and sometimes to just be cut a little slack.