4 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever had an experience that was so traumatic that it felt as if someone threw a bomb into your existence wiping out everything that seemed familiar and stable? In her book, Soul Love: How A Dog Taught Me To Breathe Again, Teresa Q. Bitner gives readers a close-up view into a period of her life when her family was devastated by the swift and unexpected death of her husband, Kris.
From the opening pages of the book, the author spares no time drawing you into her tumultuous home life of raising two teenage boys. She takes the reader back to October 2009 where she recollects the details of an evening that most of us would probably forget. But, this is the last night of her twenty-year marriage, so it would seem that this is forever etched in her mind. By the next day, she is sitting in a room surrounded by faculty at the school where she was a sixth-grade science teacher, being questioned by a state patrol officer about her husband. This is the onset of being plunged into a world of heart-shattering agony.
As part of her new normal, Teresa buys a Doberman puppy she names Hans who becomes her sounding board for tears and frustration as she spends many evenings on the couch cuddling him near. Interestingly, Hans has a lot to say, and he is given a voice to express his point of view. He believes that God has sent him on a mission to help the family deal with the tragedy that has overtaken them.
At first, the dog explaining his version of events felt slightly out of place. Naturally, there is pain vented in many of the pages including massive amounts of cursing as rage is in full swing. While immersed in an intense roller coaster of emotions, I was suddenly reading a softer, gentler tone. I noticed that the font changed which indicated that this was Hans speaking. The entries grew on me as I realized that I have applied human qualities to my pets when their tails are wagging, and their eyes are looking at me in adoration. By the end of the book, I was looking forward to what Hans had to say.
The best part of the story for me was to witness the author's transformation from extreme depression to ultimate joy. She was handed a life of broken pieces that she had to figure out how to put together. The heavy burdens of managing a house, a career and raising her children were all thrust upon her as her support system was ripped away. Yet, she got out of bed every day and little by little, she and her boys reached milestones and built a life for themselves on solid ground.
The only drawback was I was given a PDF to review that had the words ARC-Advanced Reader Copy printed diagonally across each page. At times, this text made it difficult for me to proofread. However, the actual book will not have this in it, so that should not be a problem for a reader. As far as typos and errors, I found only a few that can easily be fixed. Mainly, it was commas that were missing from compound sentences and didn't take away from the quality of the reading experience. I would recommend another round of editing, however, to make sure that the writing is as perfect as possible.
This book will appeal to a broad audience because of its theme of dealing with untimely death but also for those who are dog enthusiasts. As I stated earlier, the language in this book is coarse, but it serves a purpose as part of the process of grief and not just thrown in as an afterthought. However, if that is offensive, then this may not be the book for you.
For its profoundly inspiring message to encourage and uplift those who are hurting, I am giving this book a 4 out of 4 stars. I think many will fall in love with Hans the Doberman.
Soul Love:How A Dog Taught Me To Breathe Again
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