Updated: Apr 5
Right away, local author Suzie Carr’s dialogue-driven novel The Pet Boutique draws you in. It moves quickly and reads like a movie.I especially loved the diversity of the characters, who would likely remind you of people in your life. I find it so hard to relate to characters in books when they all look the same, and are unlike me. We all love to see a character we can relate to. Books with POC and LGBT representation definitely get my vote. It’s little things like this that make reading a book worthwhile. A teenage girl, Taylor, has made a difficult life decision, then boards a bus and meets an intriguing stranger. I could almost feel the weight of her decision on my shoulders, and I can’t stop thinking about when we flash forward to eighteen years later.
The inspiration for the title of the book becomes clear as we are filled in on what led Taylor, now thirty six, to this moment. The story unfolds as we meet Maya, Taylor’s eccentric, nurturing, upbeat editor, and friend with a dream of opening a pet boutique (which is just what it sounds like). Maya brings life and comfort to the book. She is honest yet encouraging with Taylor about her writing when she needs a kick in the butt. Maya ropes Taylor and her niece Lexie into the planning, which is how Taylor and Lexie meet. The parts of the story begin to fit together like pieces of a puzzle, and we’re introduced to more realistic multi-dimensional characters.
I could personally and deeply empathize with some of these characters. Rex was my favorite character. He is so full of life and energy; he leaps right off the pages. Taylor reminds me of me because she, too, dreams of becoming a successful writer. Lexie, in the beginning, reflects the part of me that can get down on myself when things aren’t going well. It’s hard to pull yourself out of a funk when everything seems to be going wrong all at once. She is also dependable and fiercely loyal. Maya is a dreamer and a schemer like I am. She spends a lot of time with her body in one place and her mind in another. Like Maya, once I start chasing a dream, no one is able to tear me from it. Her idea of opening the pet boutique seems silly and hopeless at first, like many ideas until they blossom into something amazing. Maya’s enthusiasm and ability to take something icky and turn it into something beautiful is infectious, and she won’t let anyone sway her vision.
Taylor and Lexie developing feelings for each other is predictable as soon as Lexie is introduced, and their rapport only makes the story more interesting. I heard myself saying “Aww” and “OMG” so many times. This book didn’t stick to one storyline. It kept me wanting to skip ahead to know what happens, but I didn’t want to miss a single detail. It didn’t take me long at all to finish this book. I was worried when I thought loose ends from the beginning would straggle, but I was greatly satisfied when it was all tied up. Without spoiling anything, the way the characters’ lives intertwine makes this story something readers won’t want to miss. It’s a story that you can’t put down.
Overall, the writing of this book was captivating, whimsical, and sweet, and I can tell the author, Suzie Carr, put her heart into it. It is also refreshing to read LGBT literature. As an avid reader, I can’t count how many cheesy heterosexual romance novels I’ve read. I typically have to finish a book I’ve started no matter how boring or grammatically incorrect I may find it; I must know how they end! Lately though, I’ve found myself judging a lot of books as being too boring to finish. I’m glad that throughout my recent pickiness, this was a book I was glad to start and enjoyed to the end. I look forward to reading another Suzie Carr novel.