REVIEW: The Great Gatz by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted
A dog tries his best to keep his two co-parenting owners and their happiness afloat in this hilarious and touching sequel to Joint Custody by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted.
The Man is happy. The Woman is happy. That means Gatz is happy. He’d like to forget about the trouble he made to get them back together—only slightly ashamed at his antics—and focus on the future. The Woman and New Man are about to get married, after all. But when The Woman loses her job because of some bad press about the two of them, her confidence is broken and she can’t help but feel resentful towards New Man when his own career stays intact. Gatz has to give it to him; New Man remains as patient as a saint (of course he does).
The Man is doing better, too, thanks to the New Woman in his life, who just so happens to be a writer as well. But two authors in the same relationship can sometimes be one too many, and they find themselves getting quite competitive with each other. But Gatz has faith in them—The Man did learn from his mistakes, didn’t he?
Gatz doesn’t know what happened to these two perfectly happy couples, but he knows one thing is for sure: not all families are alike, and happiness can be found in the unlikeliest pockets—just like treats!
Warning – this review will contain spoilers for the first book.
Was I ever excited when I saw that we were going to get a follow up to “Joint Custody,” with “wingdog” Gatz. He led us through a first-dog POV of the relationship between The Man and The Woman and then through what happened next. Now we get to find out what everyone is up to now.
Starting with a recap of the events of book one worked for me as it will get us all up to speed (if we read book one) or clued into what happened so newcomers won’t be lost. But again FAIR WARNING for those who might want to go back and read “Joint Custody” without spoilers.
Gatz is a Border Collie with lots of opinions (usually good) and inventive ways of getting his point across to his beloved People. Now he’s got even more to look after as The Woman and New Man are planning a wedding. The Man might have found a New Woman who is also a writer. This is good as they both understand the pressures the other is faced with but there are times when two writers dating each other can backfire. When both of them realize the other sometimes suffers from depression and has family issues, will they be able to work things out?
Meanwhile, The Woman and New Man are faced with a stalker who twists Twitter to unleash her anger by warping #MeToo to achieve her ends. How will The Woman and New Man overcome something that threatens to open a rift between them?
There is a lot for Gatz to try and manage in this book. He’s his usual erudite, loveable wordsmith self but there are times when even a dog this smart can’t fix everything. What he can do is try and lift the spirits of his People, bark loudly to head off “things better left unsaid” (his People are writers and editors – he knows his way around book tropes), and be there when they need consolation or solace.
I liked the way that #MeToo was a part of the plot but not in a standard way. Instead The Woman and New Man had to deal with false allegations, the fallout from them, and how their various responses affect their relationship. Some of the issues that influenced The Man in book one continue here and when he is faced with another relationship crisis, he has to decide whether or not he’s willing to examine what leads him to push people away.
The humor and tinges of sadness that I enjoyed are back again. Gatz lovingly interacts with his People (who maybe understand what he’s trying to convey just a tad too easily at times but hey, I love the dog or I wouldn’t be back for book two) and their problems are real. Things are set up so that only one thing sort of surprised me while the rest is laid out as we go along. What brings my grade down is that despite the problems being real world, it felt as if things were built up then solved a little too easily and simplistically with one action and it’s over. Maybe this is because we’re getting things from Gatz’s POV rather than the full emotional human POV impact I’m used to but I felt we needed the waters to be a bit more choppy at times. I also couldn’t help thinking that New Man had moments when he seemed almost too perfect to be true. Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed this as much if The Man hadn’t been written with more realistic flaws and layers.
But I loved reading the first-person/dog POV of Gatz again. The book ends in a happy place for all and I’m fine if this is it though there appear to be a few things that could lead to a book three. And if they do, I’m all onboard for it. B-