A picture of the book, "Good Boy - My Life in Seven Dogs."

Jennifer Finney Boylan writes about her life and transition through the lens of the 7 dogs she has owned in her life. The book is honest and unsparing, detailing how as a boy she always secretly knew she was a girl, though it took her 40 years to come out.

I read this book for my reading challenge because it was in the dog section of the library, but it might have been better placed in the LGBT section. Although Jennifer is many things, a dog trainer is not one of them, and frankly the dogs aren’t really the focus.

Each dog is described as terrible and deranged. Humping everything, peeing and pooping everywhere, never listening to basic commands. I find it hard to believe that with just one family in the picture and 7 dogs, it is the 7 dogs that are written about as if they are the problem here.

After describing a dog pooping in a bed or humping grandma’s leg, the story usually goes on for several pages of Jennifer’s life story before bringing up dogs again.

My suspicions are confirmed when Jennifer brings her terrible, deranged dog of the moment—Lucy—to a dog trainer, who has no trouble getting Lucy to behave. Lucy, in fact, seems relieved to finally get someone who speaks dog to help her.

The truth is, “Good Boy, My Life in Seven Dogs” isn’t a great dog book. The dogs are an afterthought, and there’s little to no growth in the dog department throughout the whole book. Each dog is just as “terrible” and “deranged” as the last one.

As far as the transition story goes, I found this underwhelming as well. Jennifer wants everyone to understand and accept her transition but when her son tells her he is transitioning as well, she handles it very poorly. In fact, she notes that she probably ended up making her now daughter’s transition very difficult.

One would think that being transgender, she of all people would be more sympathetic to her own child. Fortunately, Jennifer did manage to summon up some support for her daughter eventually.

I wanted to like this book so bad. I even placed it towards the bottom of my pile, as a form of encouragement to get me there. Jennifer is clearly interested in and invested in her readers, as she puts her email on the front page of her book and invites you to chat.

Unfortunately, the book just wasn’t as enjoyable as I’d hoped it would be. It wasn’t especially about dogs. It wasn’t even really about transitioning. It was just a book.

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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