REVIEW: 'Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World' by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter

Something to know before you buy:

The friendly, cuddly-looking feline on this book jacket heartbreakingly plays second fiddle in his own story.  This book is definitely more of a memoir of Vicki Myron and the town of Spencer, Iowa than of Dewey the library cat.  If you're looking for a charming pet-and-owner love story, this is not it.  While Dewey is touted as the hero of the book, his owner's life experiences are what really take precedence in the storytelling.  Myron and Witter also make Spencer's history, as well as library politics, a main focus for the book.

Things to know before you read:

While Vicki Myron's tale could still be appealing enough to draw sufficient reader interest (the reason, I'm guessing, for why they decided to feature these details so heavily), the stories in this book do not appear transparent enough for her to keep that interest.  I imagined Bret Witter sitting for long hours with Vicki Myron trying to coax an entire book out of her.

Thus, the writing suffers. It is mediocre and stand-offish, and sounds like Witter and Myron never met.  The voice is not one of any pet owner I've known.  There are sentences about how much Dewey means to Vicki Myron, but the tone is so flat, you don't really believe them.

In this book, Dewey best functions as a common thread, a jumping-off point for Myron and Witter to write about Myron's troubled relationship with her teenage daughter; her medical history; and her messy divorce.  Add to that Spencer's own history, and you end up with so many subjects to broach, there isn't room enough for Dewey.  He became a transition and nothing else, which I don't feel was an appropriate memorial to his life, nor what the authors were looking to accomplish with their book.

I don't know for what occasion or to what audience I would suggest this book, although the publicity it's received and the fame it's earned cause me to think there are plenty of people out there who would readily have those answers.  For me, though, it's once again that age-old adage: "Never judge a book by its cover."  Dewey's sweet face is enchanting, but the story between these covers is anything but.

NEXT UP: Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger (author of The Devil Wears Prada).

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