The New York Times opinion columnist and author of She's Not There, a memoir about her gender transition, considers her personal history through the lens of seven memorable pet dogs and their impact on her life.
Boylan’s observations on the bonds between humans and canines are both deeply felt and often moving ... In many cases, the bonds Boylan has with various dogs allow her to show refracted versions of other elements in her life. As one might expect in a book about dogs, this includes a lot of rumination on mortality and aging, as well as the fundamental difficulties inherent to knowing anyone. But there are also memorable digressions that Boylan eventually brings around into the main narrative ... Parts of Good Boy are overwhelmingly sad. Other scenes are wryly funny ... Ultimately, Boylan isn’t simply writing about pets; she’s writing about them in the context of life, change and mortality.
Reading Boylan’s memoirs is like working on a three-dimensional puzzle that mysteriously creates space for more pieces. Each of Boylan’s memoirs, complete unto itself, yields insight into the author and those closest to her, and Good Boy is as affecting and funny as anything Boylan has ever written ... Boylan has mastered the art of setting scenes ... the dogs...possess a purpose beyond amusing and delighting us. Clearly, they embody human qualities.
Boylan’s experiences are expressed with a captivating blend of deep reflection and wry humor, delving into her discomfort in her skin as a young boy, struggles in relationships, the death of her father, her transition to womanhood, and her child’s own transition. The dogs are wonderfully portrayed with all of their quirks. Boylan makes astute observations about the way that dogs reflect back their owner’s struggles, sometimes in unexpected ways ... Boylan’s candor and distinctive writing style will appeal to readers of reflective memoirs. A solid choice for libraries looking to expand their LGBTQ biography collections.