Publication Date: 26 January 2021
Publisher: Thomas Nelson & Zondervan
Narrator: Steven J. Carino
Strong Point: The emotion you feel when Steven talks about his life and his relationship with Oliver.
Weak Point: There was some repetition of anecdotes.
Books on Tour Rating: (4/5)
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.06/5)
“Dogs make us better humans”.
“OLIVER: THE TRUE STORY OF A STOLEN DOG AND THE HUMANS HE BROUGHT TOGETHER”
You may not know this but I adore dogs. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to have one but I know in the future I will. I have always seen myself as an old lady living with a dog, so I still have hope.
For this reason, when I saw that this book was available I didn’t hesitate in getting it.
Oliver is the heart-warming real story of a dog who disappeared from his owner’s car. It narrates the odyssey of Steven J. Carino, the said owner, in trying to bring Oliver back.
But it is a lot much more than that.
In the book Steven tells us his own story. We learn about his family, his path through life, his failures, his flaws and why Oliver is so important for him.
Furthermore, Steven tells us how although he thought he was alone in the world, and no one really cared for him, Oliver’s disappearance made him realise that he is indeed surrounded by the most marvellous people.
Oliver was stolen from Steven’s car while he was shopping on Valentine’s day 2019 in Mount Vernon (New York). From that moment on, his only objective in life was to bring Oliver back.
Of course this is what every single person would do for their pet. However, for Steven, Oliver represents much more than for any other person. As he doesn’t have a wife nor children, Oliver was his only partner in life.
Oliver is a lifebelt on whom Steven grips in order to stay afloat. Oliver is his link to life, to reality, his friend, his family. I adored to listen to his conversations with Oliver, and the doggy’s imagined responses. This was just delightful.
Furthermore, Oliver and his disappearance has helped Steven understand that he is not so alone as he thought and that people, in their majority, only wanna help.
Steven is helped in his search by his own family, the residents of Mount Vernon, policemen and in a word, the whole town knows about his story and tries to help in one way or another.
I am an atheist, to be sincere. And I’m proud of it. For that reason, there were some passages of the book where Steven talks about God and the Bible to which I cannot in principle relate at all.
However, I understand what he meant by including those passages from the Bible. Letting aside the religious elements, I can sympathise with the meaning of the words and the ultimate goal behind them.
If someone makes something bad, like in this case, stealing a dog, it is normal to feel angry. Steven did. I would too. However, as the days pass on and Oliver does not appear, Steven begins to comprehend that the person who took Oliver has problems too and that deep inside, this person is maybe not bad.
Steven’s transformation is so big that he even at the end of the story wants to help the person who stole Oliver from him. I don’t know if I could do it, so I am amazed by his enormous generosity and understanding. This makes me still have some faith in humanity.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT “OLIVER”
If you like dogs and you are so lucky as to share your life with one of these fluffy balls you would like “Oliver” for sure.
I found myself tearing up sometimes hearing Steven talking about his own life and what Oliver meant for him. You must be made of stone not to feel his suffering and desperation. But also hearing about his mother and his father made me very sentimental.
I guess if you are religious you would appreciate the book even more. But as I said, on a deep level, religious or not, Steven’s learning throughout the book can apply to everyone.
He is trying to transmit that although there are people who do bad things, there are others full of empathy, understanding, generosity and compassion.
So I will totally recommend “Oliver” if you want to learn how from an awful event in your life, you can even end up learning something good about yourself that you could not have expected.
Oh! And if you can, I’d recommend you to listen to the audiobook version which is narrated by Steven himself. The emotion in his voice really help setting up the mood for the story. Some people have complained about it, but in my humble opinion, no one would narrate this story as the person who has lived it, even if he is not a professional narrator.
Thanks to the publisher, Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, the authors Steven J. Carino and Alex Tresniowski as well as to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of “Oliver” in exchange for an honest review.