Have you ever read a book that just stays with you? For days, weeks, months? I'm still savoring the warm, cozy and touching story of Katie, the privileged Cocker Spaniel of celebrity interviewer, Glenn Plaskin. "Katie Up and Down the Hall" is a delightful and moving story of a sweet puppy whose love and spunk magically pull together a family of strangers.
Set in Battery Park City near the financial district in Manhattan, this engaging story tells the tale of how Katie and her charm open up hearts, create lifelong friendships and create family ties in the last places you might expect them.
I really enjoyed the idyllic world that Glenn creates through imagery of this little city of its own, Battery Park that exists within the much larger cityscape of Manhattan. From the descriptions of the views of the New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty, to the vast myriad of vessels floating by his living room window on the 3rd floor with the Hudson river view, to the daily parade of every breed of dog being walked down the boardwalk and frolicking in the grass, to the busy lives of the 9,000 Battery Park City residents attending block parties, picnics and indulging in all sorts of outdoor sports and activities. It almost gave me the feeling of an opening scene of an idealistic, happy film from the 50’s. But the gratifying thing about this story is the challenging life realities that are set against this idealistic backdrop.
Glenn knows nothing about raising dogs, let alone the trials and challenges of raising a puppy, but the perfect teacher is put in his path from his good friend Joe. Joe teaches him the basics of starting life with a new dog, but also introduces him to his soon to be dog raising mentor, a feisty neighbor just down the hall, Pearl. Little does Glenn know how this introduction will change his life. Pearl becomes not only a life-long and dear friend, but also a surrogate mother.
No nonsense Pearl, the matriarch of the story, is as wise as she is full of life and love, and becomes the glue that pulls everyone together as this story unfolds. Having just lost their own dog Brandy the year before; Pearl and her husband Arthur welcome Glenn and Katie into their apartment and into their lives with open arms.
As Glenn’s career takes off he starts traveling on a regular basis and Katie ends up spending full days with Pearl and Arthur in their apartment, being spoiled with love and Pearl’s luscious baked goods and home cooking. They grow to love her as their own and Katie’s home becomes a unique one – two apartments connected by a long hallway. At the same time, Glenn grows closer and closer to Pearl and Arthur as they happily treat him as their own, having never had any children of their own.
When a father and son, John and Ryan, move in just down the hall, they too are won over by Katie’s affections and drawn into the family of Katie, Glenn, Arthur and Pearl. I have to say that Katie is in stiff competition with Pearl as the “lady” of the book. Katie and Pearl both grow very close to Ryan, becoming his playmate and surrogate grandmother. Katie and Ryan is a great match in boundless energy and enjoy many adventures together.
There are so many life events that serve to pull this unconventional family together and deepen their love and family ties. Set in 2001, and living in downtown Manhattan, Glenn’s story covers the harrowing day of 9/11 and their very real-life experience of the crashing towers across the street.
In the end the two “ladies” of the book slow down together and grow even closer in their old age. The ending of the book is so beautifully and graciously crafted by Glenn. This is one of the most enjoyable and entertaining books that I’ve read about love, life, loss and the circle of life. Thank you Glenn.
In love and respect for all creatures,