Title: Luke’s Tale – A Story of Unconditional Love
Author: Carol McKibben
Publisher: Troll River Publications
“Real love means caring about another without the thought of what we might get for ourselves. Real love is when we don’t put conditions on people in order to love them. It’s not real love when other people like us for doing what they want us to do,” Sara explains in Carol McKibben’s novel, Luke’s Tale – A Story of Unconditional Love.
This one hundred and seventy-three page tome has a photograph of the back end of a large dog’s body walking on sand on the front cover. With mild profanity, the book is targeted toward both men and women who have a love for dogs and how they blend into a family unit as it discusses cancer, death, blindness and psychology. Unfortunately, many punctuation and page flushing errors distract from the reading.
Written from a dog’s point of view, Luke is a young golden Labrador Retriever who is owned and deeply loved by Ashlundt, a psychologist, and Sara, a twenty-three year old student working on her doctorate in psychology, as they live in the suburbs of Los Angeles.
The first chapter begins in three years into the future where blind Luke is grieving at a hospital but the reader is unaware what is happening, who is hurt or why he is there. This part of the story is later played out about two thirds through the book.
Reverting to the past, one day Sara abruptly announces to Ash that she is leaving to study abroad for a while, leaving him in care of their canine companion. Moody, angry and prone to temper-tantrums, Ash practically ignores the dog as he wallows in self-pity, selfishness and rage as he tries frantically to track her down.
When Ash learns Sara has left him to deal privately with her breast cancer, surgery and chemotherapy, he feels shunned and hurt. Sara, wishing for her knight in shining armor to come back for her, tries to get on with her life after a year apart. Through Luke’s eyes, he sees the constant frailty, cross-communication and bitterness of the two love-lost souls.
Luke tries his best to rejoin the disjointed couple by grabbing their attention through fighting with his “rival” paw, choosing Ash’s wardrobe, chasing his tale or stealing and burying mementos. Although he is allowed to eat everything from donuts and cinnamon buns to pumpkin and peanut butter cookies, his main focus is on his two masters and their tattered bond.
With a multitude of back and forth relationship problems, broken hearts and hopeful reconnecting, will the two individuals learn from their own pet of unconditional love? Will Ash finally forgive himself and stop blaming others for the past? Will Sara quit fleeing from her pain and practice what she preaches? And will Luke finally see love exemplified around him?
Although some of the characters’ conversations are trite with occasional repetitiveness, the idea that human love can be as unconditional as our own pets’ is a good lesson to learn.
This book was furnished by the publisher for review purposes.