Title: Chasing the Blue Sky
Author: Will Lowrey
Buy it on Amazon (Kindle, Hardcopy)
Please note there may be some very mild spoilers in my review (specifically the next paragraph which summarizes the plot).
“Chasing the Blue Sky” is the story of Toby, a black and white pitbull mix who is born to a mother kept on a short chain. Toby is eventually purchased by a nice family with two children who treat him well until a new baby is on the way. At this point, Toby is shunted off to the county dog shelter where life for him becomes increasingly depressing and difficult, leading to an ending that is predictable but still heart wrenching.
In terms of viewpoint, the story is told mainly by Toby. It reminded me of Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty,” although “Black Beauty” is told in first-person. Still, the message is the same, although obviously “Chasing the Blue Sky” is about the plight of dogs, whereas “Black Beauty” is about the plight of horses in the nineteenth century.
In terms of what the prospective reader should know, this is not lighthearted/escapist genre fiction. This is a serious novel about a serious subject. It is not a novel I would recommend you pick up if you’re looking for an uplifting story when you’re feeling depressed or down. That being said, this is an important book that should be read.
In terms of prose style, one reviewer compared this novel to a legal brief. I write legal briefs for a living, and to me, this does not read like a legal brief at all. The prose style is easy to read, quick-paced, and well-executed; I am not a grammarian but if the book had any errors or issues, they were never enough to pull me from the story. “Chasing the Blue Sky” is what I’d consider a quick-read. I was able to finish it within an afternoon. The prose is workmanlike and never becomes “purple.”
I don’t have many criticisms of this novel—it is about an important subject, albeit a sad one. One thing which the novel did do which I wasn’t fond of was to head hop. The first chapter is told from the point of view of Toby’s mother, which was fine, but then the novel is mostly told from Toby’s view, with an occasional hop into another dog’s perspective or even into a human’s perspective. This was jarring, and I think having made the decision to have Toby be the one telling the story, the author should have stuck to just letting Toby tell the story. But these are minor quibbles – otherwise, “Chasing the Blue Sky” is a well-written, emotional, and serious novel, definitely worthy of a read. I could see this novel being a definite asset to animal shelters and to rescues in encouraging people to adopt not shop.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.