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Jonathan Unleashed
Cover of Jonathan Unleashed
Jonathan Unleashed
A Novel
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"[A] comic masterpiece." —People magazine's "Book of the Week""A charming comedy on love, friendship, and the surprising influence of man's best friend." —Harper's BazaarNational Book Award...
"[A] comic masterpiece." —People magazine's "Book of the Week""A charming comedy on love, friendship, and the surprising influence of man's best friend." —Harper's BazaarNational Book Award...
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  • "[A] comic masterpiece." People magazine's "Book of the Week"
    "A charming comedy on love, friendship, and the surprising influence of man's best friend." —Harper's Bazaar
    National Book Award finalist and bestselling author Meg Rosoff's charming, hilarious new novel about a young New Yorker's search for happiness and the two dogs who help him find it—the perfect summer read


    Jonathan Trefoil's boss is unhinged, his relationship baffling, and his apartment just the wrong side of legal. His girlfriend wants to marry someone just like him—only richer and with a different sense of humor. He doesn't remember life being this confusing, back before everyone expected him to act like a grown-up.

    When his brother asks him to look after his dogs, Jonathan's world view begins to shift. Could a border collie and a cocker spaniel hold the key to life, the universe, and everything? Their sly maneuvering on daily walks and visits to the alluring vet suggest that human emotional intelligence may not be top dog after all.

    A funny, wise romantic comedy set in Manhattan, Jonathan Unleashed is a story of tangled relationships, friendships, and dogs. Rosoff's novel is for anyone wondering what to be when they grow up, and how on earth to get there.
    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-

  • From the book ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***

    Copyright © 2016 Meg Rosoff

    1

    Jonathan came home from work one day to find the dogs talking about him.

    They weren't even his dogs.

    "Just a few months, six maximum? Don't worry about changing your lifestyle," his brother pleaded. "Take them out before you go to work and when you get home again in the evening. They're great dogs and won't trash your place. Honest, you'll love them."

    James (typically, it had to be said) had understated the nature of the ask. He never once mentioned the byzantine quality of his dogs' inner lives, the practical and spiritual difficulties of caring for other sentient beings, the intense and constant scrutiny to which Jonathan was now subject.

    Jonathan very much wanted the dogs to be happy, but it was turning out not to be as simple as walks and bones.

    Sissy padded up beside him and sat at his feet, looking yearningly into his face as if searching for the key to her future. She emitted a soft whine, a pleading noise that might have meant anything— I'm hungry, I need more love, we're bored here all day, please turn over the reins to your life so we can sort you out.

    Jonathan stared. The reins to his life? He hadn't even known his life had reins. And if it did, would it be wise to turn them over to a dog?

    He pointed at her bed.

    "Lie down," he said. "And stop confounding me with impossible philosophical options." Her back was to him now, as was Dante's, their heads together. Awww, he might once have thought. But now he squinted at them, anxious. Were they plotting to take over his life? And if so, how?

    He had to admit it was nice being greeted with enthusiasm when he came home from a hard day at the advertising coal mine. Long walks took the place of going to the gym, and the dogs' ability to sleep calmed him, took the edge off work. They were good-looking dogs, and people stopped him on the street to admire his fine taste in pets. At the beginning he'd demur, saying they belonged to his brother in Dubai, but after a while he just said, "Thank you," and "Your dog is nice too," even when the other dog wasn't, particularly.

    But lately something had shifted in his relationship with them. He sensed they disapproved of his lifestyle.

    Which was fair enough. He disapproved of it too.

    Jonathan looked up and saw the critics at the door, waiting. Walk time. At least he had a park. Most dog owners in New York had to walk miles to find one, or hire someone to transport their dogs to Central Park. It was one of the deciding factors for James.

    "You have a dog run practically across the street! How lucky is that?"

    How lucky was it, mused Jonathan, though it was way too late to move now. He turned up the collar of his jacket, trudged the three blocks to Tompkins Square Park in the rain, unclipped the leashes, and off they ran, skipping for joy, sniffing other dogs and snaffling up bits of discarded food. Jonathan pressed himself up against a tree for cover.

    He thought about work while the dogs played with their friends, until he noticed that they'd stopped frolicking and were standing, staring at him damply. James always threw a ball for us, their expressions said. He played hide-and-seek and introduced us to other dogs.

    Jonathan stared back at them. What? Now dogs needed introductions? "Whatever happened to butt-sniffing? Go sniff a butt," he said, waving in the direction of the teeming pack. "Make your own social life. Stand on your own four feet."

    An older man with a husky and a large blue golf umbrella turned to look at him. "You tell 'em," he said. "In my day...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 11, 2016
    Rosoff’s buoyant, witty, but less than satisfying seventh novel follows Jonathan Trefoil’s fumbling attempts at adulthood in Manhattan. When Jonathan’s brother asks him to look after his border collie, Dante, and spaniel, Sissy, the pets give Jonathan purpose, and Rosoff (How I Live Now) is memorably funny on the foibles of dog owners. The book veers into wicked satire when Jonathan starts at Comrade, an advertising agency where everyone is “young, attractive, fashionable, underpaid, exploited, and full of existential rage.” Jonathan’s longtime girlfriend, Julie Cormorant, meanwhile, works at Bridal-360 magazine. Rosoff casts them as a plausible odd couple: he’s a nervy art school grad, and she’s a sensible salesperson. But after their engagement, incited by the offer of a free, live-streamed wedding to help promote Bridal-360, it’s clear to everyone—including Jonathan’s best friend, parents, coworkers, and subconscious—that the wedding is a mistake. As he nurses crushes on other people and ignores repeated warnings not to marry Julie, Jonathan becomes an ineffectual, unconvincing protagonist. The plot’s resolution depends on heavy-handed coincidences and canine antics. It’s a disappointing conclusion to a frequently thoughtful comedy by an author whose accolades include the Printz Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

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