The Education of Will.
Patricia McConnell is one of my favorite authors.
Her writing is brilliant — she’s entertaining, and, of course, helpful. I loved her other two books The Other End of the Leash (2005) and For the Love of a Dog (2007).
In all her books, Trish has shared part of herself with the reader.
In her latest book, The Education of Will, (released February 21), we get to know even more about her. She delves into some of the darker times in her life. Times that shaped who she is and that gave her insight to the mind of her border collie, Willie, who wasn’t the “easy” dog she’d hoped for, but that accompanied her, step for step, on her road to healing.
This book is about psychological trauma.
Yeah, it’s got some seriously heavy moments that her previous books haven’t had. McConnell describes her own trauma and it’s effects (that led her to tell a story of a kidnapping that never happened) on her life. She compares her own experiences to the trauma that her dog, Willie, faces and realizes that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) isn’t limited to just humans, but rather it’s common across species.
It’s one hell of a read.
Survivors of trauma may find some particularly challenging passages, but keep going! It’s worth the squirming and the uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach. I felt a particular kinship to Trisha as she described her irrational fears of the dark. I’m routinely made fun of (and make fun of myself) for being afraid of the dark, my coping skills for being home alone at night, and for being sure that someone has gotten into my house and is hiding in a closet or in the basement.
When I was in the early relationship stage with my boyfriend (now husband), he tried to be cute by turning off the lights as he went upstairs, leaving me alone in the dark in the kitchen. The only light I could create was by opening the refrigerator door. I yelled, he laughed (surely I was joking, no one could really be scared to walk through the house in the dark), and I stayed there in the kitchen holding the refrigerator door open until he finally turned the lights on for me. So yeah, I get it, that irrational fear that you can’t explain, but you also can’t overcome.
Turns out Trish has some really good reasons for her fears.
She experienced quite a bit of trauma in her early life. Molestation, rape, and seeing a man literally fall out of the air and die right in front of her. It wasn’t until she got her dog Willie, and began to recognize some of her own symptoms in him, that she was able to begin the journey that would help both Willie and her.
The book is a fascinating read with enough dog and human examples, personal experiences, and animal behavior to satisfy every type of reader.
While there were some dark passages, scary to be exact, the book is more than an accounting of the bad things that happened in her life. She deftly manages to include enough dog behavior information to please the dog trainers, enough personal information so we feel like we really do know her (and we’d be friends if we could just meet in real life), and hilarious stories from her daily life.
One of my guilty pleasures was that she weaved into the book stories of her life on the farm.
Regular readers of McConnell’s blog are familiar with the paragraph that always begins with “Meanwhile, back on the farm…” I love hearing her describe the different birds on the farm and how they function as a seasonal clock and can either herald springtime or warn of the impending winter.
If you’ve enjoyed McConnell’s other books, you won’t be disappointed with The Education of Will.
It’s different than her others, but there’s still so much of the Trisha we all love, along with a side of her that we’ve never known, that I’ll bet this book will also become a fast favorite of yours.
She’s going on a book tour, too!
From McConnell’s site, here’s where you can find her.
March 1, 2017 – Seattle, WA
March 4, 2017 – Beaverton, OR
March 5, 2107 – Navato, CA
Sponsored by the Marin County Humane Society
Click here to register