Winner of the June 2015 Elle Readers Prize
Lots of dogs eat shoes, bite people, destroy furniture . Read more...
Winner of the June 2015 Elle Readers Prize
Lots of dogs eat shoes, bite people, destroy furniture . . . but Eddie tried to destroy a marriage.
After more than three decades of happy single womanhood, Mia Navarro wasn t really looking to change her relationship status. The idea of being a step-anything to anyone was foreign to her, something she never thought about. . . . Until she fell in love with Jim and agreed to marry him. As it turns out, the marriage is pretty wonderful, the stepkids were, well, typical pre-teens, the weather in Los Angeles perfect. But life is not spotless. The spots belong to Jim s mutt, Eddie. Possessive and jealous, Eddie behaves like Jim s mistress if a mistress could bark and compete for space on his beloved s lap. As time goes on, a full-on war ensues. Mia slams the door in Eddie s face, cordons off the house into dog- and wife-territories, and leaves the back door open . . . by, er, accident, of course. She even tries to leave Eddie behind in California when she and Jim abruptly relocate to New York. But in the end, it s clear that not even a wife can come between man and dog. As Eddie ages, Mia softens, and as with any new family struggling to blend, the two must make peace with each other. Ultimately, Stepdogis a triumphant story about finding love at an unexpected stage in life and the many unforeseen obstacles not only of the four-legged variety that can get in the way on the road to happily ever after."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-02-02
- Reviewer: Staff
New York Times reporter Navarro expected to experience the typical ups and downs of becoming a stepmom when she married fellow journalist Jim Sterngold. What she didn’t expect was how her presence in the family would evoke disdain from Jim’s best buddy, a dog named Eddie. Navarro relates in detail her courtship with Jim and her own feelings of jealousy toward the 40-pound, spotted, butt-wagging beast that Jim describes as “just a junkyard dog,” with “the markings of an Australian cattle dog.” Clearly a one-man dog, Eddie does his best to make Navarro’s budding relationship with Jim unpleasant in his presence via nonstop barking, random peeing, threatening leg-lifting, and an aura of general dislike. Despite Eddie’s best efforts, Navarro and Jim marry, and her life as a stepmother to teenagers and dog commences. Readers expecting the typical “I just adore my sweet puppy” story may be disappointed with the way Navarro speaks of Eddie—mainly as a nuisance with which she has to learn to live. However, similar to learning how to stepparent human children, Navarro eventually calls a “truce” with Eddie, as both learn to live with each other in a semi-harmonic, albeit wary, manner. Agent: Philippa Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.)
Stepping on paws
So-called “blended” families are a complex ecosystem, where kids can play adults against one another and even the goldfish gets a say about who does what on the chore wheel. It’s therefore not so unusual that one family was thrown into disarray by a possessive mutt. Enter Eddie, the Stepdog of the title.
For Mireya Navarro, it was easy to fall in love with Jim—both were successful reporters at the New York Times, and they had much in common. Mia could work well enough with Jim’s two kids, but Eddie seemed to have her number. Defying every command, ecstatic to see Jim or the kids while he barked at Mia, Eddie made it clear how he felt about the newcomer. When her attempts to befriend the dog fell flat, she began scheming to get him out of the picture.
Navarro’s story is ostensibly about the dog, but go beyond that and you’ll find a layered tale of family love. Mia and Jim know they’re right for one another, but her relationship with the kids never becomes “parental” despite living with them half the time. Jim loves Eddie in large part because he loves Jim unconditionally, a rarity when juggling the needs of so many humans. And Eddie? Mia’s psychological read on his behavior—that the dog is jealous—gets turned on its head by a canine counselor, who helps the two form a friendship of sorts.
Stepdog is fun and often funny, but it will be of special interest to anyone with a blended family life. It’s a powerful reminder that all you need is love, and possibly kibble.