In “Joint Custody,” authors Lauren Baratz-Logsted and Jackie Logsted tell the story of love lost, and they tell it through the eyes — and mouth — of Gatz, a rescue dog much beloved by the main characters. Gatz is not your typical dog. He knows poetry and literature and can discuss synonyms. On the very first page, he paraphrases Dickens. Of course, there’s the fact that The Man and The Woman, the two most important people in his life, are an author (published, thank you) and an editor, so the fantasy makes perfect sense in a very “you must completely suspend your disbelief” type of way.
The Man is introverted and rarely wants to leave their apartment while The Woman loves to dance and to dress beautifully. One thing that they can completely agree upon is that Gatz, named after the main character in their favorite novel, “The Great Gatsby,” is the best dog in the world. And after they finally, after three years together, break up, they decide that joint custody of Gatz is the fairest way for both of them to continue to shower love on their sweet loyal dog. But brilliant Gatz is not likely to leave things alone, and we watch him try ruse after ruse to bring his two beloved people together.
When eating chocolate and ending up in the doggy ER doesn’t cause a reconciliation, Gatz must dig deeper. And when The Woman meets New Man (handsome, suave, thoughtful), Gatz is very worried. New Man seems to be perfect for The Woman, so Gatz pulls out all the stops working on both The Man and The Woman to get them to come to their senses. They belong together — with each other and with Gatz! No dog ever tried so valiantly to reunite lovers, but can Gatz prevail? Can he turn back time to bring the two people he loves best back together?
While this is light reading, there is a point toward the end of the story when I found myself a bit teary-eyed. We really find ourselves wondering if Gatz is doing the right thing or just blindly striking out to make things as they were. A minor peeve is that a dog who can discuss Kafka can only refer to the two people he lives with as The Man and The Woman. But aside from that sort-of-lapse, we generally view Gatz as a “person” of superior intelligence who appreciates many of the finer things in life, including extra Parmesan cheese on his noodles in the couple’s favorite Italian restaurant, good literature, and Bruno Mars. His first person narration is filled with dry wit, and his use of the English language far outshines that of Chaser, a fellow Border Collie, whose vocabulary is limited to a mere thousand or so words.
Ready for a sweet, romantic threesome with a dog? You won’t find one cuter than “Joint Custody.”
Please note: This review is based on the final, paperback book provided by the publisher, Berkley, for review purposes.
First posted on Bookreporter.com.