Friday, June 17, 2016

Jonathan Unleashed

Title:  Jonathan Unleashed
Author:  Meg Rosoff
Publication Information:  Viking. 2016. 288 pages.
ISBN:  1101980907 / 978-1101980903

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Jonathan came home form work one day to find the dogs talking about him."

Favorite Quote:  "He wondered why no one had written a book called How to be a Person."

The short version of the simple plot is that Jonathan is a young man who has moved to the big city but who finds life is different from what he envisioned. The job, the home, and girlfriend all don't quite go the way he expects. On top of that, unexpected pets enter his life and, of course, change him for the better. What is a young man to do?

We have the man Jonathan. He arrives in New York, looking to make a life and a career. With a job, an apartment, a girlfriend, and two dogs, he seems to have everything going for him except that he really doesn't.

We have the job. Jonathan works at a new age advertising agency. The office is an open concept space, decorated with the remains of a train station. It seems like an environment made for creativity except that it is not. Jonathan's client rejects every original idea and wants the same information regurgitated again and again. The introduction of Greeley as the boss's assistant brings a change, but Greeley's purpose in the book seems to be to guide Jonathan on his path, in a all-knowing guardian kind of way.

We have the apartment. Jonathan find what should be the perfect apartment except that it's not. He rents a place in New York with no paperwork and the possibility that he may have to vacate at any moment. The situation begs a question that Jonathan decides not to ask because after all, he's getting a nice New York apartment out of it.

We have the girlfriend. Jonathan's girlfriend works for a bridal magazine and follows him to New York with her own job opportunity. It should be the perfect chance for them to start a life together, except that it is not. Let's just say the reunion is not quite the happy one expected.

Finally, we have the dogs. Jonathan's brother is in Dubai for a job assignment, and leaves Jonathan to watch over his two dogs. Jonathan has never been a dog-person; he expects to not like these dogs except that he does. He bonds with these dogs to the point of having imaginary conversations with him and analyzing what they might be saying about him.

Put all these together and you have this story that seems to meander unleashed and unmoored. Don't get me wrong. Parts of the book are funny. However, I don't think I was the right audience for this book. I did not quite get the point or see the point or understand the point or something.

To me, it seems like this book wants to approach the style and story of The Rosie Project but is unsuccessful in doing so. Jonathan is not a likable enough character to capture that same feeling. The book seems to be about Jonathan finding greater meaning and satisfaction in his life. At the same time, he seems just lost and unmotivated, somewhat pummeled along by circumstances. It makes it difficult to root for his success. This hint at a more serious meaning keeps the book from being just a light-hearted, feel good dog-person book like Dog Gone, Soon Again.

Not exactly a simple feel good read. Not exactly a serious journey of self-discovery. Not bad but not exactly the book for me.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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