I, Cosmo is a really beautiful and bittersweet story with echoes of Judy Blume crossed with one of those lovely gentle family films were ‘nothing’ yet everything happens. You know the ones where there’s something to work toward but it’s not saving the world or battling dragons, it’s battling feelings and upsets instead.
The interesting part of this is that the narrator is not a child in this case but a dog, and not even a puppy, Cosmo is 13 which of course is very elderly in dog years meaning he is sadly aching and not as agile as he was in his youth- but he is still as loyal and loving as ever.
Cosmo came into this family as the pigeon toed puppy but since Max was born 12 years ago he has devoted himself fully to protecting and loving this child and in time his younger sister too. Especially from THAT sheepdog.
But things are not going well. Mum and dad are falling apart, Max is struggling with anxiety and making friends and Cosmo is feeling his age. He worries he won’t be able to save the family, so when Max wants to join in the local dog training group, Cosmo will do his upmost to win the day and save the family.
As the owner of two aging dogs, I was a little worried this was going a certain way and I had to read the ending after finding out he was old and achey. Apparently I have read elsewhere that it’s ok to say he doesn’t die so you can read in peace and joy without a Marley & Me style heartbreak- I couldn’t watch that film but my husband did and then cried himself to sleep cuddling our then puppy.
It’s still sobering in places. My lab-muddle is like Cosmo and needs a little help getting up onto a bed, and by the nature of his breed my greyhound gets the aches in his legs so to see Cosmo feeling his age makes me want to cuddle my dogs even more!
However Cosmo is so devoted to his family that he refuses to let his aches and pains get in the way of doing his best to help Max make friends and feel better about his family falling apart- even if that means pushing his body to the limit and being in the presence of THAT sheepdog.
This I find hysterical and reminds me of my greyhound irrational hatred of Parcelforce vans when he was a young dog (all other couriers were acceptable).
Uncle Reggie’s presence is a soothing balm in a boiling sea of emotion, and his strength and calm brings a stillness to the chaos around the family giving the children centre and Cosmo motivation. He is a wonderful character to see in Middle grade fiction, a fantastic role model for all children of healthy positive masculinity but especially for young black boys to see such an amazing guy like them and the positive men around them in fiction.
The dog narration is such a special and sweet touch with the dichotomy of doglike innocence to the wisdom of an elder, his shame at eating the Thanksgiving Turkey to regret at how the family doesn’t seem to dance anymore. By stepping outside the usual narratives we see much more of our humanity and problems.
Overall this is a gorgeous book, heartfelt and hopeful yet heartbreaking at times too. It’s got a lovely warm nostalgic feel yet doesn’t feel ‘old-fashioned’ either and is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours.
I, Cosmo by Carlie Sorosiak is published by Nosy Crow on 1st August 2019 in the UK and by Walker Books US in December 2019 in the USA.
Many thanks to Becka at Nosy Crow for my proof copy. 💜💜