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I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson

I Thought You Were Dead (edition 2010)

by Pete Nelson

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1912361,769 (3.55)22
Title:I Thought You Were Dead
Authors:Pete Nelson
Info:Algonquin Books (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 288 pages
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I Thought You Were Dead by Pete Nelson


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Paul Gustavson is at one of those crossroads we all face from time to time in which we get to choose to make changes and become happier or continue suffering from the consequences of our own actions (or inaction as the case may be). He's got a girlfriend he's afraid to ask more from (even though she's seeing someone else), a family he's estranged from (and doesn't want to be), and comforts himself by drinking too much and eating too much junk food. But that's okay, because he's also got Stella. His dog. Who gives him advice (really good advice--the kind you can take with you when you finish the book).

One of the things I love about this book is that Paul treats Stella's ability to talk to him like it's a matter of fact. He's not shocked by it, doesn't over analyze it, or profit from it. Stella just talks. And he just listens. What's more, no one else knows that she can talk and Paul doesn't try to tell them about it. In my estimation this is the best way to handle something this extraordinary.

The other thing I appreciate about it is the love that permeates it and how all the characters in it seem to be reaching for it, they just don't always know how to attain it.

This book also contains one of my all-time favorite quotes (slightly modified here as I had to trim it so it would fit on the back of my kindle cover). "The miracle was how love stayed, enduring and steadfast, loyal as the gentle beast who, ever at his side asked only to be included, fed, walked; giving in return more love than could be reasonably asked for, logically expected or credibly deserved."

( )
  MPaddock | Sep 22, 2017 |
Paul is your “average Joe” character and this is his story as seen primarily through the eyes of his elderly dog Stella. Paul is divorced, under-employed, suffers from a drinking problem, has a girlfriend who is torn between him and another man and a gifted brother, in whose shadow he has spent his entire life. What else could possibly go wrong? Then his father has a stroke, and rather than paddling through life he is forced to deal with his family and confront his personal demons.

My favourite line in this book is the title. The author explains that a dog is always so happy to see you when you come home because they have no sense of “away”. Their happiness is a result of relief … “I’m so glad to see you. I thought you were dead!” This book is another heart-warming, tear jerking, feel good story featuring the voice of a canine. Nice light read for a summer evening.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
I Thought You Were Dead: A Love Story by Pete Nelson is about the special bond between man and dog. In this case it's a hack writer, Paul, and an aging, talking dog, Stella.

Paul is dissatisfied with his career — he writes for the "For Morons" series. His father has had a debilitating stroke. He's not sure he wants to continue in the open relationship he has with his girlfriend. He might be an alcoholic. And his best friend, Stella, is getting old.

But it's Stella who does the worrying for both of them. And it is she who says, "I thought you were dead," her standard greeting when he's out too late.

And here's where I had trouble with the book — to no fault of Pete Nelson's skill as a writer. In the states, dogs are often treated as furry children. And by extension, when we have conversations with dogs, we do it with a similar tone and limited vocabulary as we do with young children. It's no wonder that were they to answer, we'd expect them to answer somewhat like a young elementary school aged child.

And — that shtick has been done in book (and PBS cartoon), Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh. Having watched many episodes of Martha Speaks with my children, it was damn near impossible to not hear Stella speak in Martha's voice. I also often heard the theme song of the PBS show whenever Paul and Stella were talking. ( )
  pussreboots | Oct 3, 2013 |
This was a surprise. It's sweet and...sort of beautifully understated. The real love story, to my mind, is between our narrator and Stella. ( )
  jarvenpa | Mar 31, 2013 |
I don't normally read such "touchy-feely-finding-oneself" books because usually they are just too sappy. This one is actually surprisingly addictive. I couldn't relate to Paul or his life or his relationships (girlfriend, family, dog) and yet I kept reading because I wanted to see whether or not he grew up, grew a pair, sorted out his life, and had a happy ending.

It is extraordinarily believable for a book that has a talking dog as a main character. One might think that this basic premise would make the book silly, but Stella acts/reacts exactly how one would expect a dog to act.

It is emotionally heavy and his and his girlfriend's behaviors had me frustrated (in a good way) throughout most of the story. She was just a bit too "holier-than-thou" for my taste. I also have a little dislike for the last 1/5 of the novel which took on an Alcoholics Anonymous flavor which was just a tad convenient and somewhat preachy. ( )
  crazybatcow | Oct 5, 2011 |
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As Paul Gustavson's life falls apart he is anchored by Stella, an adoring dog who listens to his every complaint.

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