Book Review: The Wonder of Lost Causes by Nick Trout

The Wonder of Lost Causes…

About the Book:

A single mum learns that her son can talk to a very special dog – and the lessons the dog teaches will transform them all.

Dr Kate Blunt will do anything for her son, Jasper. Well, almost anything. Kate’s always told him he’s not allowed to get a dog. She’s a single mum taking care of a kid who has to fight for every breath he takes and Jasper’s daily medical routine is complicated enough without adding a mutt to the mix. The terrible irony for Kate is that, as the overworked veterinarian running an animal shelter, her life is full of dogs in constant need of rescuing.

Kate has to live with the fact that every abandoned dog is on a two-week deadline to find a human – so when a scarred, mistreated wreck turns up, she knows he doesn’t stand a chance. Named Whistler, he’s too old, too ugly. A lost cause. But the dog forms an instantaneous, almost magical connection with Jasper. Whistler never makes a sound, let alone a bark, yet he speaks to Jasper in a myriad of mysterious ways, forging an indelible bond with the boy.

But time is running out. As Kate and Jasper fight to give Whistler another chance, one thing becomes clear: the dog has chosen them for a reason. And what Whistler inspires in them may be his most important lesson of all.

Transformative, moving and life-affirming, The Wonder of Lost Causes will break your heart and make it sing.

My Thoughts:

Another dog book. And we all know what I’m like with these! This is my first time reading Nick Trout, more’s the pity, because I think I’ve been missing out on something pretty special. The Wonder of Lost Causes is a fairly long novel, well over 400 pages, which seems a lot for a dog book, but really, it almost wasn’t long enough, that’s how good this novel was.

“I succumb to a new round of tears, biting down on my knuckles, trying to be quiet, certain of just one thing. The mistakes of the past, and all the imperfections of the present, have nothing to do with my perfect child.
Instead, they say all that needs to be said about me.”

Jasper has cystic fibrosis (CF) and is never really well. Each day for Kate, his mother, is a battle to get through. And yet, Jasper really is a rather extraordinary boy, intelligent and intuitive, bravely trying to get on with life as a twelve year old boy who hasn’t a chance at keeping up with his counterparts. I developed a soft spot for Jasper early on, with his obsession with all things English (the reasons behind this, which you don’t find out until much later on, will really grab your heart hard) and of course, his deep love of dogs. Jasper seems to be one of those rare people who are able to communicate with animals, a dog whisperer, and it’s through this gift that he connects with the damaged stray, Whistler. The two form an instant bond that is at times uncanny, but always deeply meaningful.

“I conjure up a mental image of the mutt, my son’s Comforter-in-Chief, this relentless yearning for his company, and I almost laugh, the way I strive to be in control, calling the shots, providing safe passage when the reality of this hospital room proves that for all my bravado, we remain enslaved by a disease.”

I found Kate, Jasper’s mother, both frustrating and entirely relatable at the same time. Her resistance to letting Jasper have a dog was infuriating, yet I could understand where she was coming from because even though none of my children are sick like Jasper, I often resist adding more into my daily mix. I’m busy enough, there is more than I need on my plate each day, so Kate’s resistance made perfect sense to me even though I could also see how letting Jasper get a dog would add so much more than what it would take. Nick Trout has done an exceptional job with creating Kate. He’s really nailed what it must be like to parent a child with a chronic illness, having to daily question yourself, needing to advocate for them on so many fronts, and having to contemplate that in all likelihood, you will outlive your child. I appreciated Kate’s introspection and like I said above, while she frustrated me a lot, I was also very in tune with her.

“And she’s right, and I see it, how this beautiful boy and this beautiful dog are perfectly matched, why they fit, and click, and make perfect sense together. Jasper, my angel, showing the world a normal-looking boy, damaged and ravaged on the inside, and Whistler, his gifts hidden, waiting to be unlocked, his scarred and twisted body on permanent display.”

This novel really is an ode to special dogs, the power of connecting with an animal, and the many ways in which that companionship can enrich your life. I am a dog person, I always have been, but in recent years I’ve added birds into the mix and I can see how it’s not necessarily the animal, but the bond, because bird or dog, all of my pets enrich my life. I thoroughly enjoyed The Wonder of Lost Causes and recommend it highly. It’s filled with joy, peppered with sorrow, and ultimately an empowering story about love and acceptance.

“When you cry about losing a dog, it means the dog did its job. It means the dog made a connection. You got him. He got you.”


Thanks is extended to Allen & Unwin for providing me with a copy of The Wonder of Lost Causes for review.

About the Author:

Dr. Nick Trout is a British staff surgeon at the prestigious Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He’s also the author of five books: three memoirs (including the NYT Bestseller Tell Me Where It Hurts – published in the UK by Little Brown) and two novels (published Hyperion in the US and Allen & Unwin in ANZ).

The Wonder of Lost Causes
Published by Allen & Unwin
Released May 2019

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Wonder of Lost Causes by Nick Trout

  1. This is so well reviewed, thank you. I haven’t read a Nick Trout book before. I saw this one in the shops over the weekend and decided I wasn’t ready to read it in light of my loss. But it sounds really good!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. At first, I thought 400 pages was a bit long, but after reading it, 400 pages was not long enough. I did not want it to end. I have found a new favorite author!!

    Liked by 1 person

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