La La’s world stops being whole when her mother, who never wanted a child, abandons her twice. First, when La La falls through thin ice on a skating trip, and again when the accusations of “unfit mother” feel too close to true. Left alone with her father — a locksmith by trade, and a thief in reality — La La is denied a regular life. She becomes her father’s accomplice, calming the watchdog while he strips families of their most precious belongings. When her father’s luck runs out and he is arrested for burglary, everything La La has painstakingly built unravels. In her fourth year of veterinary school, she is forced to drop out, leaving school to pay for her father’s legal fees the only way she knows how — robbing homes once again. As an animal empath, she rationalizes her theft by focusing on houses with pets whose maladies only she can sense and caring for them before leaving with the family’s valuables. Other People’s Pets examines the gap between the families we’re born into and those we create, and the danger that holding on to a troubled past may rob us of the future.
Other People’s Pets
September 1, 2019
- Who was your favorite character? Why?
- Who was your least favorite character? Why?
- La La and Zev have many flaws. Were you able to care about them in spite of their flaws? Why or why not?
- If you have pets, in what ways is your relationship with them similar to La La’s relationship with her pets? In what ways is your relationship with your pets different?
- If you don’t have pets, did the book make you want to have them? Why or why not?
- What did you learn from the book?
- How did you feel about the end of the book?
- What do you think about Zev’s parenting skills? In what ways is he a good parent? In what ways does he fall short?
- How would you describe La La and Zev’s relationship?
- In the book, La La thinks about what it means to observe the biblical commandment, “Honor thy father and mother”? What obligations does La La owe Zev? What obligations does she owe Elissa?
- Do you ever feel that you know what certain animals are feeling, emotionally or physically?
- What do you think about the concept of an animal empath?
- How would you describe the author’s writing style? Did you enjoy it?
- Growing up, did you have childhood experiences similar to La La’s or Zev’s childhood experiences?
- Have you ever been treated the way La La treats Clem in their relationship?
- What do you think are the themes of the book?
- Zev calls on God for help periodically, but would you consider him a religious man? Why or why not?
- Both La La and Zev break the law at different times in the book. Do you think breaking the law is ever justified? When? Is it justified when La La and Zev do it?
- Dr. Bergman could be described as La La’s mentor. Have you ever had a mentor? What was the experience like?
- The book has a thread of magical realism running through it. Have you read other books that contain magical realism? What do you think of the technique?
- Would you like to read something else by this author?
Courtesy of R. L. Maizes
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