So I settled down to read, book in one hand, cup of coffee in the other and box of chocolates at my side. The coffee went cold, the chocolates remained untouched, engrossed doesn't seem an adequate word.. I couldn't put this book down!
You don't need much imagination when reading this book, from the very start you feel you are on a journey with Pen.
The book begins in the weeks before his deployment to Afghanistan. His thoughts, fears emotions and expectations. By the time you have got to the part where he leaves his wife Lisa and their dogs Fizz and Beamer to begin his tour of duty you are sharing every raw emotion and every fear with him... no really.. by the time Pen arrives at the outpost in Nowzad you can literally feel the searing heat, the dust that clings to everything and you will be swatting away imaginary flies!
His first encounter with Nowzad at a dog fight, his fury at the senseless cruelty of it, his frustration as a dog lover will take you on a rollercoaster of emotion.
Nowzads arrival in camp some days later seems almost like fate, battered, wrapped in wire, his ears and tail cruelly cut off (to make him a better fighting dog) this dog had absolutely no reason to trust humankind, no reason to believe that anyone of the two legged variety would show him anything but abuse and cruelty. Temporarily placated with a sausage he was warily released from the wire, possibly the first act of kindness he had ever been afforded. Here in the book is where you may want to pause and arm yourself with a stock supply of kleenex, you are about to embark on an incredible journey, The subsequent bond which forms between these two unlikely friends is a journey I wouldn't want to miss and nor should you. It's ups and downs, the arrival of several more impromptu "rescue" dogs each of which this burly Royal Marine just couldn't turn his back on is captivating. The struggle to get the dogs to safety, the red tape and lack of communication with the outside world will leave you hanging off your seat, the failed attempts, the ticking clock as time runs out will have you chewing your fingernails down to nothing!
I have laughed, I have cried, I have felt frustration, disbelief and have held my breath till I needed to be reminded to breathe!
If I thought I knew the Nowzad story I was wrong, If I thought I was about to read a book where I knew the beginning and end I was wrong. The story is so much more than that of a dog loving marine who couldn't walk away. This is a story of love, fear, compassion, grief, determination and courage.
I won't spoil the book for anyone wishing to read it by giving away any more of the content, but I will sum it up by saying that the book is A MUST READ!
It is brilliantly written, the honesty and emotion is breathtaking and when you come to the end of the last page you will wish there was more.
Whether you are a dog lover, have loved ones serving in Afghanistan or just love a good story then this book is FOR YOU!