Featured Review: My Dad, My Dog by Sheila Hermel

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GKCfan
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Featured Review: My Dad, My Dog by Sheila Hermel

Post by GKCfan » 26 Feb 2017, 20:18

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "My Dad, My Dog" by Sheila Hermel.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Official Review: My Dad, My Dog, by Sheila Hermel

My Dad, My Dog is a memoir, where Sheila Hermel tells the story of how she loved and lost the titular characters. It’s a poignant love story, between the love of a daughter for her father, and the incredible comfort and joy that a canine presence can bring to one’s life. As we get to know the Hermel family, we soon become sorry that our time with Shelia’s kindly Dad is so short, and our fondness for Barney the dog mirrors our feelings for the pets of our relatives and friends, who become members of our families and circles of friends themselves.

Early on, we know full well that by the end of the book, both Shelia’s Dad and Barney will have passed away, but knowing their fates doesn’t spoil the book, so much as help us to understand Shelia’s emotional journey. Writing this book was probably a form of grief therapy for Sheila, allowing her address the emptiness that came about from two loved ones leaving her life. Despite the weighty material, the tone of this book accepts that loss is a part of life, and that grief, though real, natural, and necessary, must never dominate our lives for long.

There are many sad passages in the book, but fortunately, Hermel never lets the narrative become depressing. The prose is sweet and sincere, and as one reads the book, many scenes are peppered with humor that seems organic and never appears forced or out of place. Sheila’s Dad’s jokes are wry and clever, and a scene where the Jewish family talks about holding a “Bark Mitzvah” for Barney made me laugh.

Indeed, after reading this book, we never have any doubt that Shelia will continue her life, and that the grief will eventually continue to fade, though the love left behind will never lessen. Late in the book, Shelia writes that “Death is simply never easy,” and that fact is simple yet surprisingly profound. Many people assume that if one preplans one’s funeral, or tries to avoid a protracted demise, or if one turns one’s funeral into a big party, that such actions will make things easier and nicer for one’s loved ones. But this isn’t necessarily the case. I often hear people talk as if somehow making one’s final days and memorial services neat and tidy will solve a lot of problems, but emotions cannot be tidily set aside.

Emotional yet never manipulative, tearful yet warm, and clearly written from a perspective of affection, this book is a moving but not draining read that is a quietly joyous celebration of life and love. Yes, the price of love is eventually loss, but as the closing passages make it clear, no matter how hard it is to lose someone you love, experiencing real love in your life, be it from a spouse, a family member, or a pet, is worth it.

I give this book four out of four stars.

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My Dad, My Dog
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Post by greenstripedgiraffe » 06 Mar 2017, 16:49

Wow - this sounds like it impacted you in a good way. Dealing with grief is never easy. But, as you said, love IS worth it.
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Post by GKCfan » 06 Mar 2017, 18:44

Thank you, greenstripedgiraffe!

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Post by kimmyschemy06 » 07 Mar 2017, 09:17

Sounds like a tearjerker. My own father died about 13 years ago, so, I think I would find this book relatable. However, I was never attached to our family's dog or any of our pet for that matter, as I find it very difficult to let go when their time comes to an end. Great job on the review. Congratulations to Sheila Hermel on such an obviously well written book.

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Post by Vitadolce » 09 Mar 2017, 11:51

Family come first.

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Post by Richard Arup Banarje » 16 Mar 2017, 04:01

though i read this books few page, it seems to me that it is a story of one who lost her two loving lifetime buddy. they made a strong place in authors heart. they gave him motivation. this books reflects love for author to her father and her dog. which was given by her father.

it's a family story.everyone can read this book. will you definetly love this book. best wish to author.

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Post by Elaine5 » 16 Mar 2017, 06:48

Sounds like I should get a box of tissues, sit down and enjoy this book. Great review. Thanks for your insight.

-- 16 Mar 2017, 08:18 --

Sounds like I should get a box of tissues, sit down and enjoy this book. Great review. Thanks for your insight.

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Post by GKCfan » 17 Mar 2017, 05:10

You're welcome, and thank you!

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Post by Mollymae » 21 Mar 2017, 19:51

What a great review! I was a bit hesitant to read this book because I'm a dog lover and thought the text might be depressing. However, thanks to your information, I look forward to reading the book and think it actually sounds up-lifting.

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Post by michelonline29 » 21 Mar 2017, 22:38

Losing someone we love is very hard to accept especially if that someone left so much memory in us. Maybe this story will give motivation to the readers who already experienced the same to continue living even after their loss. I also looked forward in reading this one.

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Post by GKCfan » 22 Mar 2017, 01:57

Thank you all for your kind comments!

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Post by Shreyoshi Sen » 23 Mar 2017, 23:50

It's sad that Sheila loses both her dad and the dog. Its a beautifull story with lots of emotions. I loved your review. Thanks.

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Post by GKCfan » 24 Mar 2017, 00:10

You're welcome. Thank you for writing that!

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Post by A Cup of Positivity » 24 Mar 2017, 01:52

It sounds like this is a refreshing and motivational story, even though it deals with such a heavy topic. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Although it does teach us about the importance of love and isn't written in a depressing manner, I'll have to stay away from this book. I don't want to be crying (good or bad tears).

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Post by Amagine » 24 Mar 2017, 14:40

I've always been a fan of a well written memoir and your review gives me the feeling that this story is exactly that. I am glad to hear that the story is not just one of misery but one where the writer celebrates the life of her loved ones. She knows that death is never easy but still realizes that rather than cry over death, she should celebrate the life that was lived. Your review was very well written and gave me the sense that this is a memoir that I definitely need to read.
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