When I first saw the cover of Buddy, I couldn’t help but wonder how interesting a book about a pet rooster would be. Sure, roosters aren’t the most common of pets, but as a girl, I had very traditional animals in a suburban setting, so I didn’t exactly know what it meant to have a chicken as a pet. After reading Buddy, however, I have a new sense of respect and understanding of all that Brian McGrory went through to make peace with Buddy.
This hilarious memoir details the unexpected changes and adventures that come about when Brian, a Boston-based journalist begins to date Pam, a veterinarian and mother of two young girls. The two originally met through Harry, Brian’s beloved dog who passed away (as a note, Brian does develop the story of Harry because it allows us to better understand his relationship with Pam, but I wasn’ t really expecting a touching puppy tale in the midst of a book about a rooster). As their relationship evolves, Brian grows closer to Pam and the girls, and begins to understand that a hatching egg that started out as a science experiment is now going to be another pet in the suburban zoo that is Pam’s home. While Brian doesn’t really know what to expect, it is clear that his relationship with Buddy is very different from that of the girls (while Brian dodges peckings and sneak attacks, the girls coo over the chicken and carry him around lovingly). When Brian and Pam decide to buy a house together, Brian struggles to overcome the challenges of transitioning being a city dweller to a suburbanite, and must gain a new understanding of his role in this blended family.
While this book is unexpectedly funny, there are definitely some sad moments. It was hard watching Brian struggle with the transition, but it was even harder watching Pam’s two girls ignore Brian’s attempts at easing into this new life they will have. Often times the girls come across as snotty and spoiled, despite what Brian indicates. Additionally, while Pam is consistently portrayed as patient, and Brian seems to be the only one to have issues with Buddy’s incessant crowing after the move to the new house, because we don’t have a deep understanding of her as a character, it is hard to connect with her.
Overall, this book is a fun, easy read. It was refreshing and entertaining, and while it is certainly not a pet-tearjerker like Racing in the Rain or Marley and Me, it is a touching look at how much pets can teach us (even the most unexpected of pets).