Abandoned by her mother and raised by her locksmith-turned-burglar father, La La Fine is an animal empath nearly through with veterinary school when her father is finally arrested. La La drops out of college to pay for her father's legal defense by returning to the bad habits she learned as a child—robbery, a crime she rationalizes by targeting homes with troubled pets.
Other People’s Pets, with its lively voice and unexpected characters, makes a perfect addition to anyone’s summer reading pile, but it is required for those who understand that coming of age has absolutely nothing to do with age.
... this engaging and poignant novel should not be pegged for animal lovers only. With its powerful exploration of a dysfunctional birth family and the life that can be made from and despite the traumas of inheritance, Other People’s Pets is, quite simply, a great read ... Resisting both despair and sentimentality, Other People’s Pets deals with the toughest stuff ... In her creation of this complex cast of compelling characters, R.L. Maizes reveals her writerly sensibility to be that of an omni-empath. In these times marked by an empathy deficit, such a quality is not only welcome but also sorely needed. Other People’s Pets is a fun read that also provides non-saccharine nourishment for one’s soul.
Immersed in La La’s complex mind and body, readers experience the dutiful daughter’s sharp empathetic pain each time she encounters yet another suffering animal. Simultaneously, we become frustrated by La La’s innate inability to truly connect with humans. La La’s 'voice' is almost deadpan, almost devoid of human emotion ... Maizes keeps readers invested with authentic care and concern for her two main characters, and possibly, though adjacently, even Elissa, whom we only merely glimpse from time to time. Still, Elissa’s final scene leaves everyone reeling, readers and characters alike. Overall, Other People’s Pets is an absorbing debut novel, one often quite difficult to put down. And even when set aside, if only momentarily, the book continues to resonate: Readers may begin to see the world differently ... a rich storyline that’s only slightly fantastical, adroitly addresses our own (hyper)reality of fact and fiction, illness and wellness, desperation and hope, love and loss.