Apologize, Apologize!, by Elizabeth Kelly
Published by Twelve, Hachette Book Group, March 2010
Genres: Fiction, family, drama, coming of age
Source: purchased (secondhand)
Another book that I picked up at my local second-hand book sale, and I have to admit that it caught my eye because of the title, I don’t know if I even really read the cover to see what the book was about! I was drawn to the title because I am someone who apologises a lot, even when it’s not my fault or I have nothing to apologise for! I guess it’s my Britishness coming out…
The book centres around the dysfunctional and, let’s be honest, completely mad, Flanagan family who live in Martha’s Vineyard, in the States. The family includes Collie, the eldest son named after a dog breed, his younger brother Bingo, their parents, uncle and grandfather, and A LOT of dogs.
This is primarily a coming of age story, wherein Collie has to learn to find his place not only among his eccentric family but also the wider world.
We very quickly learn that Collie is not his mother’s favourite son, and she doesn’t even try to hide that fact, especially as he seems to be close to his grandfather, whom she hates. Through adventures, tragedies, struggles and laughs, Collie searches for what it means to be a man, without a reliable and well-adjusted male role model in his life.
Collie’s first-person narration is naïve and, honestly, a little annoying. He flails around from one bad decision to another, never takes responsibility for himself or his actions and is generally a bit lame. Time after time, he gets sucked back into family drama and situations which he really doesn’t want to be involved in.
The whole chaotic family situation is very unrealistic, as nobody seems to be employed, apart from the rich grandfather, most of the adults are always drunk or medicated in some way and they have about a million dogs. Realistically, how are they all surviving? I know it’s fiction, but it felt a bit too unrealistic to be believable, but not too far from reality to be completely fictitious. That probably doesn’t make sense…
I did enjoy the book though, some of the situations and encounters are funny and well-written and the setting is beautifully described. The different human-dog relationships were also very touching and, as a dog lover myself, very relatable and sweet.
My rating: 3/5