In Men and Dogs, Katie Crouch weaves a complex and tangled tale around the life of Hannah Legare and her family. Hannah is an off the wall, outspoken and slightly crazy; she never recovered from the disappearance of her father when she was a young girl. Her brother Palmer, a successful veterinarian, and her mother, the southern belle Daisy, have both moved on and continued on with their lives. Hannah, on the other hand, is unable to move past the moment. Clinging to the idea that her father is still alive, she grows distant from her family and flees her hometown in the South. Twenty years later, when her personal life and her mental state both begin to fall apart, she returns.
As she holes herself up in the bedroom of her youth, Hannah’s character becomes a bit annoying as she stops being proactive and lets her self-pity takes her over. It is her fault that her business is failing and it is because of her affairs that her marriage is over, yet she still has a woeful attitude. Hannah is reckless and childish, and clings to the disappearance of her father as a faulty explanation for her behavior. Hannah is so destructive and selfish that she is hard to relate to. DeWitt, Daisy’s husband, who is gruff and funny, tells Hannah the truth about her behavior yet seems to accept it. I found myself caring more about Palmer’s story and his relationship issues than I did about Hannah’s.
As remnants of the past start to come together, Palmer moves on and grows emotionally as Hannah makes only mild progress. When she is finally ready to return to San Francisco, nothing has really changed.
I had a hard time holding interest in Men and Dogs, or at least in Hannah. If her character was developed the way that Palmer’s was, the book would have been more exciting and relatable. Instead, Crouch seemed to focus on Hannah’s behavior more than the actual character and the novel dragged on as a result.
In addition to working on her own personal writing, editing Messy Magazine, and writing for multiple sites, Lauren is also currently pursuing her MFA in English. More of her work can be found at: goldiesays.wordpress.com.
This book was provided free of any obligation by Hachette Book Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.