Strangely compelling but also somewhat disappointing, this National Book Award winner is less a story about a woman's healing relationship with the Great Dane left to her by her deceased friend than it is a meditation on grief. The friend and mentor, who committed suicide and left no note, looms large in her thoughts and memories. The snippets with the dog are charming, but they are not the focus.
The deceased friend has few redeeming qualities, making the reader wonder about the narrator's attachment to him, but part of the point seems to be the nature of suicide and the impossibility of resolution for those left behind.
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A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.
When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.
While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.
Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.