Friday, June 3, 2016

Kathleen Gerard - The Thing Is - Review & Giveaway

About the Book

Can a woman mired deep in the throes of grief have her heart and soul rallied by a therapy dog named Prozac who possesses supernatural wisdom and a canine Mensa IQ? Meredith Mancuso is depressed. Ever since the death of her fiancĂ©, she has shrunk from the world. Even with her successful writing career, she's not motivated to work. When her sister, Monica, begs for a favor, Meredith wants nothing more than to say no. But she’s ultimately roped into pet-sitting an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac. Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, Prozac is an active pet therapy dog. To heal broken-hearted Meredith, he rallies his fan club at Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, where he visits each week. Prozac and the community of resilient older folks challenged by losses of their own propel Meredith, often against her will, back into the land of the living. Meredith learns that most people carry some sort of burden, but it's still possible to find meaning, purpose, and joy—and even love—along the way. THE THING IS—a perfect read for fans of General Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy, and Dog and Pet Lovers!

My Review

I could immediately relate to this book—knowing it was set in a small town like Oak Park, New Jersey—because I'm very familiar with the middle class lifestyle captured in its pages. The ethnic-sounding last names. The love of the New York area sports teams. The crummy spring weather, thanks to winters that never end. All of these perfectly rendered details brought it all home for me, making the story seem much more real and poignant.

I really liked how the life of a writer in a small town is portrayed. Meredith Mancuso writes under the pen name Meredith St. John and has her photo airbrushed on the back of her romance novels, yet it's funny because everyone knows it's her. It's that kind of "everybody being in everyone else's business" that's indicative of small town life. Despite Meredith living off the grid (working from home and not having much of a social life), she still manages, much to her dismay, to draw attention to herself. She even becomes something of a local celebrity when she starts bringing Prozac the therapy dog to the local independent living facility. It's not long before she turns into the residents' most talked-about visitor.

Although Meredith doesn't venture far from home in this story, she does go on a journey of self-acceptance. She thinks her neighbors and those she comes in contact with automatically form a negative opinion about her because she's different. In her mind, they all view her as the crazy recluse writer from 22 Rosebush Lane. So she stays away from people because she's afraid to hear the unkind things she thinks they're saying about her. But the seniors she comes in contact with turn out to be her salvation. They're from a different era, one long before the advent of Facebook, when people would talk about each other, not necessarily to be mean, but because deep down they cared about each other and were willing to lend a hand to those in need. They don't mince words. They tell it to her straight. They like her writing. They like her. They just want her to get out more and live a little.

Meredith slowly begins taking their advice, venturing back into the real world after spending such a long time away from it. The story carries with it a heartwarming message. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle push, either through the nudge of a dog's nose or the tap of a cane to the back of the legs to get a person going again. It doesn't take much, just a little kindness where it's needed, a compliment here, a suggestion there. It's the kind of do-good-for-others inspiration that you don't find in most books nowadays, but it's something the world needs a lot more of.


The Thing Is can be purchased at:
Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Pages: 299
Release: February 9, 2016
Publisher: Red Adept
ISBN: 9781940215587
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Kathleen Gerard writes across genres. Her work has been awarded many literary prizes and has been published in magazines, journals, widely anthologized and broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). Kathleen writes and reviews books for Shelf Awareness. Kathleen's woman-in-jeopardy novel, IN TRANSIT, won "Best Romantic Fiction" at the New York Book Festival.

Links to connect with Kathleen:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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  1. Really enjoyed your take on the book and the "small town" angle you focused on in this review...other reviewers have not mentioned it before, but you 'got' it. I thank you for that - and for featuring more about THE THING IS on this great blog! Keep up the good work! :)