Book Review – Other People’s Pets, by R.L. Maizes

R.L. Maizes’ short story collection, “We Love Anderson Cooper” was filled with rich, interesting, somewhat quirky characters. “Other People’s Pets”, R.L. Maizes’ first published novel is also built upon colorful, quirky characters. In this book, Maizes tells the story of La La (nee Lousie) Fine. La La is abandoned by her mother at the age of 11, and left to be raised alone by her father. La La’s father is a daytime locksmith, but earns most of his income at night by breaking into and robbing houses.

La La’s story  is compelling and moving story. Her life is driven by abandonment and duty. While out ice skating with her mother, La La falls through the ice and nearly drowns. While her mother runs to get help, La La is rescued by a large black dog. Shortly after the near drowning, La La’s mother abandons her family and La La discovers that she has a gift of animal empathy – she can feel exactly what the animals around her are feeling.

La La is home schooled by her father, a locksmith by day and burglar by night. She gets engaged, moving in with her fiance, and enrolls in veterinary school. Then, one day, La La’s father is arrested. Driven by a sense of duty to her father, and the fear of being abandoned by her father’s going to prison, La La makes some choices that result in her life crumbling and being abandoned by everyone around her. But don’t despair, La La does survive, on her own, even after losing her gift of animal empathy.

The characters are what drives “Other People’s Pets”. The book is a compelling, quick read. The writing moves along at a good clip, but it is the characters that makes the reader want to hurry to see what happens next. In addition to La La, La La’s father is, you could say, quite the character. Maizes shows us that he is multi-dimensional, and really tried his best to raise La La the best that he could, on his own, within the limits of his career choice.

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