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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Dad’s Last Dog is an unusual and heartwarming work of memoir non-fiction, penned by author Dan M. Kalin. In this down to earth and realistic look at growing up, childhood influences and father-son relationships, we meet our author as the eldest child in a family where life was never typical. A series of stories takes us through the life of Dan’s father, Ron Kalin, who abruptly passed away and left behind a voracious dog: a Labrador named Belle. Ron was a man whose ambitions never quite came to any payoff, yet he kept swinging and reaching despite his failures, and this introspective look examines Dan’s remembrances and new lessons learned after Ron’s passing.
Whilst most memoirs cast a nostalgic sepia tone over the past and view memories as fond and rosy, author Dan M. Kalin acknowledges the difficulties of living with his father’s ambitions and rejection of the life that was laid out for him. Though Ron was a difficult man, the author's prose is suitably respectful and loving, but also has a poignant and critical eye that offers a lot of valuable life lessons for readers to take away and really think about. The organization of the stories, the timeline of events, and the way the book mirrors at its beginning and end are really well-crafted elements that add to the cohesion and harmony of the memoir as a whole. Overall, readers seeking a heartfelt but unusual real-life story need look no further than Dad’s Last Dog. A highly recommended and unique read.