Monday, June 17, 2019

To Night Owl from Dogfish
by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Meg Wolitzer

Narrated by Imani Parks, Cassandra Morris,
and Various Others
Synopsis (via Goodreads): From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.

Avery Bloom, who's bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who's fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends--and possibly, one day, even sisters.


But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can't imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?
“I really like reading stories with an unreliable narrator, because the person telling you what happened can't be trusted with the facts and you have to figure it out. Maybe when it's your own story, you're always going to be an unreliable narrator" -Avery (Night Owl)”
To Night Owl From Dogfish was an amazing and truly remarkable read that I will never forget. However, I do have one teensy complaint about the audiobook. At the beginning of the book, Bett and Avery are communicating via email, and they use a single thread for most of their conversation. Every time we switched perspectives it was, "Subject: Re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: you don't know me". If I had been reading a physical copy, I simply would have skipped over this part and kept reading. Unfortunately, it was an audiobook, and the narrators read every single re. It made me a little crazy, and I was so very thankful when they switched to a new subject. Other than that, the narrators were absolutely perfect for this.

I enjoyed both Bett and Avery's perspectives, and everything about the summer camps was enjoyable. Bett's antics made me laugh! She was bold, reckless, and I loved how she chose to tackle the world. Avery followed the rules and stuck to her plans, but she was also willing to try new things. Despite their rocky start, the two developed a very loyal friendship that continued to grow throughout the story. To Night Owl From Dogfish takes place over two years, and I really liked seeing how the characters developed over time. I think the authors executed these characters perfectly, and I was in love with them from start to finish.

I also loved that the authors discussed "found" families, and how they are just as important and meaningful as "traditional" families. They were both raised by single dads, Bett having a surrogate mother and a deceased father, and Avery knowing who her mother is (parents were separated and not in contact). It was their normal, and they defended their families without hesitation. Bett and Avery also acted like sisters, and continued their constant communication over the years. A lot of the characters in this book weren't technically related, but they felt a kinship with one another that was beautiful. 

There are plenty of machinations in this book, and I absolutely loved it! Bett and Avery scheme constantly to make things work in their favor, and it was fun watching them plan everything through email. I was worried how that would work at first, telling the story through emails and letters, but it was perfect. It really worked, and I'm thrilled with the result.

I was smitten with all of the characters in this book, especially Bett's grandmother, Gaga (or Betty 1). She's a riot! She also adored her granddaughters, and gave really excellent advice. Gaga participated in a few of Bett and Avery's schemes when the other adults were being unreasonable. Loved her!

To Night Owl From Dogfish is a book that left me smiling and happy. It emphasizes the importance of friendship and family, and shows how two girls can grow together and apart in unimaginable ways. There's a twist at the end that caught me off guard, but it was unexpectedly perfect for this story. I highly recommend this one!

18 comments:

  1. I've seen this one a lot of Booktube and it sounds good but I'll be honest, it would have lost me at all the "re's." At least if I had been listening to the audio. Glad you enjoyed the rest of it though.

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    1. If I hadn't been in the car, I probably would have stopped listening to it and borrowed a physical copy from my library. At one point, I started skipping ahead just to miss the repetitive "re" at the beginning of every single email.

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  2. This does sound like it was a fun read and for whatever reason it is new to me so thanks for putting it on my radar!

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    1. Happy to help feed your TBR monster! It was a very enjoyable read, and I hope you like it! :)

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  3. I like that it explored found families. Bett and Avery friendship and trials sounds well done.

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    1. I really enjoyed the time skips and seeing how their relationship changed over time. The family dynamics were amazing! :)

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  4. I had such a good time reading this book. I was instantly smitten with both Bett and Avery and the friendship that developed between them was wonderful. Gaga was a standout for me as well.

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    1. I'm so happy we both enjoyed this one! I really liked both girls from the start. They tried so hard to be enemies, but just couldn't stick to their initial ideas. Their friendship was heartwarming and so authentic! I was so happy for Gaga!! <3

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  5. I hadn't heard about this but it does sound pretty good. Thanks for letting us know about this one.

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    1. Always happy to help add books to TBRs. ;)

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  6. Sounds good but I do think I'd read this one and not listen to it. I think all the re reading would totally make me bonkers... and I'm there already. LOL Brilly review!

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    1. I would suggest reading a physical copy, even though the narrators were perfect and amazing. The repetitive "re" was obnoxious and made me want to pull my hair out.

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  7. Thanks for sharing this one! It sounds perfect. 👍✨

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    1. It was lovely! <3 A really remarkable read that I enjoyed from start to finish. I think it's a fantastic MG novel that highlights the importance of family, and friendships that last even when they're not physically close.

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  8. This sounds like such a solid middle grade novel. I love the focus on family, in whatever form it might take.

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    1. It was so great, Tanya! I'm buying a physical copy for my shelves, because it's definitely a book I want to read with my kids one day (and one I want them to read for themselves).

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  9. This sounds like an enjoyable read, though I would also get tired of the repetitive re's if I listened to the audiobook! I especially love the sound of Bett and Avery's friendship :)

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    1. It was a lovely friendship! I wish the narrators had skipped over the repetitive aspects of their emails, but it's okay. I understand they're just reading what was written, and it wouldn't have bothered me in a physical copy.

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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless