John Grogan and Jenny Vogt are a newlywed couple living in Florida. The two are journalists, however Jenny's career seems to be speeding past John's. The couple aquires a house plant, but under Jenny's care it dies very quickly. This sends Jenny into a panic, because she fears that she has no mothering abilities and she will never be able to raise a family. Therefore, the couple decides that getting a dog would allow her to practice caring for a living being.
As the couple goes to pick out a dog they settle on a yellow lab, whom they name Marley. After they put a down payment on him, they discover that his father is a boisterous beast.
As soon as they bring Marley into their home they discover how much of a challenge it's going to be to train him. They enroll him into obedience classes, but he is quickly dismissed due to poor behavior. The couple soon learns that he is terrified of storms and spend their nights comforting him and missing out on sleep. He constantly tears up the funiture and will not allow Jenney and John a moment of peace.
The addition of three children adds to the tension and it looks as though Jenny has had enough of Marley's antics. However, the family keeps the dog and as the years pass the children bond to the lab. He lives a lengthy life, but eventually passes away from gastric dilation volvulus. The entire family is struck with grief at his passing.
1) This novel is one about the bond between a family and their pet. Do you think that Josh Grogan exaggerated the bond between his family and his dog to make the story more dramatic?
2) Do you think that you would have been able to deal with the stress of a dog like Marley?
3) With the addition of children to the family do you think it was a wise desicion for them to keep such a reckless animal?