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John Donald Middleton – Jem: Lessons in Living

Posted in Book reviews, and Non-fiction

Jem: Lessons in Living is a memoir of friendship between a man and one very special pug. This book just exploded in my heart. To me, there are few kinds of good books:
1. Books saying something in a revolutionary way and which are blowing your mind with their story
2. Books you have to put down to breath, but you can’t stop yourself from exclaiming “What?!”
3. Books where the story characters, events etc. become deeply settled in your heart

The best possible situation is where all points are mixed in just one book, and unfortunately it doesn’t happen as often as we, readers, wish. However, it doesn’t mean good books must meet all the criteria. Jem: Lessons in Living fell under the third category in my case, and was one of very few book ever which brought me to tears. I’m known for having a weak spot for animals, dogs in particular, and the shorter nose they have, the more I’m keen to adore them.

I knew from the beginning that Jem’s story will be most likely something I will enjoy. It’s theme is simply close to my heart, as I was exposed to similar situation in our family, and also because of my French bulldog who means a world to me. Now, my life changes one more dog, a rescued boxer named Coco. Do I need to mention that one dog in the book is Coco too? So yes, as expected, this read was really great for me.

Jem: Lessons in Living is a result of author’s personal “rebirth”, if I can call it so. It shows how many times we have an opportunity to change, how many people, in this case they were dogs, we need to meet to find the one who changes (almost) everything. It deals with family relationships and animal characters with courage, necessary for improving lives of the author and his family.
Jem’s lesson was about importance of a friendship and support. His presence meant something much more bigger than his owners could realize, before it was too late. Mind you, this story isn’t a sentimental piece for all pug fans, but more an honest confession of someone, who had made mistakes in his life, and it took faith and one unexpected pug to change many things upside down.

For me, personally, it was a touching read. I don’t mind it’s not the longest book ever, it hooked me straight from the beginning. There are pieces of Jem’s personality in every chapter, even though the story line is far in past, before he was even born. But it gives a glimpse into his wonderful personality and once he’s story line’s main character, I was alredy attached to him. The end broke my heart and as mentioned, I even cried. I’m happy to say not only because I was sad, but also for author’s decision to transform his love and grief in helping the others (pugs) in need.

If you would like to know more, wait for my interview with John Donald Middleton here soon, or maybe get the book yourself.

Note: I received this book in NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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