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IMG_5920“What if a wheezing, sneezing, allegedly house-trained, ticking time bomb of an orphan pug is the key to helping a family feel at home again, after an arsonist set their house—and life—on fire? If you asked me, I would have said it’s a bad idea; we can do better. Unfortunately no one asked me, and The Pug List is my family’s story.”

In the fire’s aftermath of insurance battles royal, rebuilding plans, parenting in the face of life’s hard questions and a scorching case of post-traumatic stress, now is absolutely the worst possible time to adopt a dog. But to Alison’s seven-year-old daughter, Eden, it’s the perfect time—and The Relentless Campaign begins.

Until one day Alison peeks inside Eden’s diary—dubbed “The Pug List”—and realizes in one fell swoop that her girl’s heart is on the line, and resistance is futile (“The pugs make me happy FOREVER.”).

Enter “Outrageous” Oliver, and the hilarity, healing, and irresistible hope that follows.

(Image of my pug, Pugsley with a copy of the book; story synopsis from goodreads.com)

I came across The Pug List one night when I was wandering the aisles of Target. (We don’t have one in our town, so whenever I get the chance I go to one.) As usual, I had found myself in the book aisles and of course the cover of Alison Hodgson’s book caught me eye. As you can see in the picture above, I also have a pug. So when I saw the full title of the book, The Pug List: A Ridiculous Little Dog, a Family Who Lost Everything, and How They All Found Their Way Home, I knew that I needed to read this book.

As one would expect in this nonfiction memoir, Hodgson spends the beginning of the book describing to the reader the tragedy that her family faced when their home was set on fire. She does an excellent job of explaining the emotional toll that the event takes on her family of five, as well as caring for their lab Jack. Although I’m sure it was difficult to see in the aftermath of the events of the fire, Alison was very blessed with having a large community of family and friends and neighbors to help the family after the fire. It was interesting to hear how each member of the family dealt with the situation differently, but also how they were able to come together to support one another to survive the stress that they all felt through the different stages of recovery.

However, as much as I liked the book, I was expecting there to be more about the journey for a pug. I guess, for me, the title The Pug List, led me to believe that there would be more about Oliver the pug. I was well over halfway through the book before there was even mention of any pug, let alone Oliver himself. I understand the importance of the events that the family experienced, but with the title being what it is, I was expecting more about the pug – I guess this is because I was hoping to hear someone else’s story of rescue and the joy that a pug can bring to a family.

My pug, Pugsley, is also a rescue and in the 6 years that we’ve had him he has provided endless entertainment, lots of dollars spent in vet bills, and unconditional love. My hope had been for The Pug List to talk more about Oliver and his impact on the family, most especially Alison’s youngest daughter. While Hodgson does address this, it is much later in the book and I didn’t feel like I truly got to know Oliver and his story while in the family. I wanted more of his antics, more of his every day life with the Hodgsons. I felt like as soon as I was starting to get to know Oliver, his story was over. (Not that he died, but the book ended.) So I did enjoy the book, I liked Hodgson’s writing style and her honesty, but I can’t rate the book very high because I felt misled by the title. (In my biased pug-loving heart.)