REVIEW: Joint Custody by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted
A mischievous dog takes matters into his own paws when his beloved owners split up in this offbeat romantic comedy.
The Man has custody Monday through Friday, The Woman has custody on the weekends. But that’s not enough for Gatz, who will do anything to bring them back together—even if it kills him. And it almost did. Of course he knows chocolate is bad for him, especially two whole pounds of it, but it’s the risk he’s willing to take to get them back together.
Gatz knows that The Man and The Woman are perfect for each other—how can they not see it too? She is an editor and he’s a writer. She’s a social butterfly and he’s as introverted as a guy can get. After the misguided death-by-chocolate attempt, Gatz thinks he still has time. But when New Man—so handsome, so nice, so perfect—enters The Woman’s life, he realizes he’ll need to step up his game. And you know what they say: drastic times call for drastic doggy measures.
A laugh-out-loud romance that will touch your heart and make you want a furry friend of your own.
If ever there’s a dog who might be able to narrate his own story as well as pull off being a “wingdog” matchmaker, I’d bet it would be a Border Collie. Gatz is observant, clever, literate (his Man is a writer and his Woman is an editor so he’s around books all the time), and determined. He’s also got great taste in music and some darn good dating tips.
From when he was the last puppy of his litter in the shelter and scheming to get just the right owner to adopt him, Gatz stood out for me as one smart dog. He knew exactly what he wanted and he stuck to his guns until he’d arranged things just so. When he saw The Man – Gatz just knew.
“Hey, buddy,” he started.
And for the first time in my life, I didn’t mind someone calling me “buddy.” Not when he said it.
“It’s so nice to meet you,” he went on. “I’m—”
I must confess, I was so besotted at this point that I didn’t catch his name or anything else he said immediately. I was so entranced that the specifics of the sounds he was making didn’t register in my ears, and from this moment onward, he would forever be The Man to me. There might be other men on the planet—billions of them, in fact—but there would only ever be one The Man.
When I calmed down enough to register specific words again, I tuned in just in time to hear him say, “Gosh, I’d sure love to have you come home with me, but of course, it’s entirely up to you.”
I wagged my tail a bit.
Yes! He cared about my opinion of things!
When they met The Woman on the street going home for the first time, Gatz knew she was also destined to be The Woman. Getting his introverted Man together with this graceful, sunny natured, and extroverted Woman wasn’t easy; the best things in life never are. But like a true rom-com, there had to be a breakup, a book club, and a second chance.
“So, who has read the book?”
Not me! I’m just here for the wine and conversation! I thought with a deep sense of relief. And I was relieved. Deeply. Because if The Woman was changing the subject back to the book that I was sure none of them had read, she wasn’t serious. And if she wasn’t serious, there was nothing for me to worry about.
“I have!” The Blonde said to The Woman. “I was fascinated by the symbolism in Marissa’s character . . .”
Poseur, I thought with a yawn, as I settled back in over my front paws. I bet you got that from reading Goodreads reviews.
Gatz is adorable. I won’t use the C word as far too many people squeal that word at Gatz over the course of the story though notably neither the Man nor the Woman stooped to that overused adjective. He’s also got just the right amount of snark that never goes overboard into obnoxious. He can “talk” about literary references, appreciates when a waiter adds some fresh parm to his pasta at the dog friendly restaurant, has good taste in clothes for the Man (who sadly mainly lives in flannel shirts, jeans, and ball caps), enjoys the Woman’s elegance and refinement, but also loves to spend all afternoon chasing a frisbee or stick as long as they’re thrown for him to chase. His plans don’t always work but he tries his best within his limitations. I’ve read a lot of other books with an animal narrator but Gatz will be one of my favorites.
What I really, really like about this novel is I didn’t quite know where it was going to go. It kept me guessing about The End and I love when I can’t predict what’s going to happen. The characters – including Gatz who is darn near perfect but not quite, as he discovers – grow over the course of the story. There’s a nice mix of humor and a little – just a bit of – bittersweet so things don’t get too sappy or overly sugary. Readers will have to be willing to accept a (very observant) dog telling the story but if they can cross that (delightful canine first person) bridge, they’ll find a fun, funny, and heartfelt book. As Gatz says, “It’s all about the happy ending.” B+