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Reviews for Never Leave The Dogs Behind

by Brianna Madia

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The author of Nowhere for Very Long returns with a tale about how solitude and dogs can heal wounds. Madia moved to the desert outside Moab, Utah, in May 2020, fleeing from the pain of leaving her husband and a vicious barrage of online harassment. She writes, “A handful of people would make dozens and dozens of anonymous accounts to send what amounted to hundreds of messages” berating her for the breakup and even the accident that almost killed their dog. “People claimed to know things about me, about my life,” she continues. “Even if they knew nothing, the internet still provided them the perfect place to pretend they did.” She responded by taking refuge in a used van with a vista of “the smoldering ashes of all the bridges I’d burned while I, myself, had been on fire.” As in her previous memoir, Madia recounts in raw detail her depression, mania, guilt, anger, and struggle to survive, emotionally and physically. She was not really alone, however. Besides two pet pythons, she lived with four rambunctious dogs. “Sometimes,” she admits, “I forgot I wasn’t a dog until other people were around.” Her life felt chaotic: “I was drinking myself to sleep, starving myself to a silhouette, and living in a relative state of squalor simply because it felt like that’s what I deserved.” Blaming herself for her husband’s alcoholism and the failure of their marriage “had become a form of survival. If everything was my fault, that meant I had some sort of control over it…that meant I could make sense of it, fix it, never let it happen again.” Gradually, Madia came to see that she could take care of herself and become someone “who could learn to forgive herself for those times when she didn’t know how.” An intimate memoir of shattering pain. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.