I scooped up several copies of Abigail Thomas’ memoir, A THREE DOG LIFE, after hearing her read at a local, indepdendent bookseller a couple of years ago. The seal of approval on the cover by Steven King noting it as “The best memoir I have ever read.” was certainly intriguing, but I was more taken by her and the glimpse she gave us into her life.

Simply told, in April 2001, Thomas’ husband Rich took their dog Harry for a walk and was hit by a car. The accident shattered his skull and the life that he and Abigail once shared. Not so simple was the reality of what would happen next. All were left traumatized by the event that permanently altered Rich, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury and a sketchy recollection of the world he once inhabited.

Thomas’ memoir is a love letter to her husband and the one, then two, then three dogs that ultimately helped her through the emotionally painful and unpredictable moments that followed Rich’s accident. She imparts so many lessons learned on the value of living in the moment, appreciating what you have right now, and wasting no time worrying about the future.

That’s not to say her road to these realizations was an easy one. Thomas regularly struggled with guilt about what happened and her husband’s eventual placement in a skilled facility that could better manage his volatile emotional state and physical limitations than she ever could.

Her writing is simple without being simplistic, authentic and just plain good. One of my favorite passages is when she realizes that life can go on and she can even expereince moments of joy and happiness:

If only life were more like this, you will think, as you and the dogs traipse up to bed, and you realize with a start that this is life.”

I was certain this book could have the possibility of wrecking me, sucker punching me when I least expected it, or even when I did. Thomas’ story is such a tragic one, but one that is offset by her sheer commitment to her husband and herself. It’s so beautifully told that I actually came away not with feelings of sadness but admiration for her, her perspective and her expertly and seemingly effortlessly crafted words.

Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 208