Title: Chasing the Blue Sky
Author: Will Lowrey
Genre: Fiction / Animals / Pets
In Chasing the Blue Sky, Toby, a lively, young Pitbull mix, tries to find a place to call home.
Toby has called many places home–first, home was with his mother, who was neglected and chained outside. Then, he wins the hearts of a family where he’s sure will be his forever home, until one day, Toby is taken to the local animal shelter, his family drives away, and the concrete floors and metal cages become his new home.
The story is told almost exclusively through Toby and the other dogs’ perspectives. The innocent and simplistic trains of thoughts, confusion, and devotion the dogs show throughout the novel are as equally heartwarming as they are heartbreaking, especially when they fail to receive the same love they give.
The dogs themselves are at the center of the novel where their characters are revealed to be more than just house pets. At the animal shelter, Toby meets other dogs, some who have been there for almost a year, some who were neglected, abused, or, like Toby, were left because their owners simply did not want them anymore. Toby slowly faces the fact that maybe for him, maybe for all of them, there is no place where they can ever truly call home.
Each dog’s story and their interactions with each other were the novel’s sweetest, most powerful points. Their voices were dynamic and their personalities were diverse. From embittered to optimistic, the many dogs Toby encounters, including the kind of dog he’s choosing to be, are emblematic of the hardening conditions of animal abuse and neglect.
Toby’s relationship with the shelter workers becomes inconsistent as he struggles to cope with the shelter’s confining conditions. The human characters in the novel were realistic because they varied widely in their treatment of animals–while some were irresponsible owners, others were shelter volunteers who were willing to risk it all for the dogs they desperately tried to prevent from being euthanized.
The variety in the human characters made the novel more balanced, lessening the easily overpowering sentiment of the evil some humans show to animals. The sections narrated by humans were just as moving as those narrated by the dogs, and often these moments included more specific details that would have been missed through Toby or any other dog’s perspective.
Included at the beginning of the novel is a “List of Characters” section which includes each character’s name and whether they are a dog or a human and, for the former, the breed. In the novel, Lowrey’s descriptions were clear and every character’s voice and personality was unique and memorable, so the introductory list and character description is counterproductive and unnecessary.
Chasing the Blue Sky approaches animal rights in a way that is both empathetic and constructive. The novel is filled with emotional, heart-wrenching scenes that are not for the faint of heart, especially those who are animal lovers. Lowrey’s novel does more than just tell a sad story; it confronts the injustices those who do not have a voice face, yet these forgotten ones show resilience and love anyway.
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