To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg WolitzerTo Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Meg Wolitzer
Narrator: Cassandra Morris, Imani Parks, Michael Crouch, Sullivan Jones, Bahni Turpin, Renata Friedman, Cassandra Campbell, Robbie Daymond, Giordan Diaz, Alexandra Harris, Jonathan McClain, Emily Rankin, Erin Spencer, Emily Woo Zeller
Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
Published by Listening Library on February 12, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.

Avery Bloom, who's bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who's fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends--and possibly, one day, even sisters.

But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can't imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?

I’m only minimally interested in most middle grade, particularly if it’s not potentially romantic and not fantasy, but I am interested in full-cast audiobooks, which is why I chose to read To Night Owl from Dogfish. This was a #gooddecision, because the audiobook is excellent, minus one nitpick. To Night Owl from Dogfish is a quirky, voice-driven story about family and friendship, and it brings some serious The Parent Trap vibes.

Because they’re not that common these days, I’d kind of forgotten how much I love epistolary novels or those told in diary entries, but rereading Jessica Darling and this book reminded me of that. Most of
To Night Owl from Dogfish consists of emails between Avery Bloom and Bett Devlin, who get into contact when Bett tracks down Avery’s school email address to inform her that their dads are dating each other. Other emails and letters pepper the text here and there (both their dad’s, Bett’s grandmother, Avery’s mom, camp directors and counselors, etc.), but the main focus is always on the relationship between these two girls.

Bett emails Avery initially to enlist her help in breaking up their dads and also getting the dads’ plan to send them away to camp together for the summer (so the dads can travel together in China). Even though both are determined not to be friends, they can’t resist chatting about everything under the sun, as well as plotting the demise of their dads’ relationship. It’s super cute and Parent Trap, and it’s also super Parent Trap when they decide to get their fathers back together after they break up. The plot’s just adorable tbh. Tropes to the max in the best way.

Like The Parent Trap, which no doubt had to be an inspiration for the authors, much of the book takes place at summer camps. There’s even a dance where drama happens! And tiny middle grade ship potential, although it doesn’t really end up being a thing. Maybe they could write a sequel where it is? 😉

Another thing I sometimes forget how much I love is found family stories, and To Night Owl from Dogfish totally fulfills that role 100%. Bett and Avery initially intend to have an antagonistic relationship, but they soon become dear friends in spite of themselves, and within time, they’re basically sisters, whether or not their dads choose to marry. It’s such a sweet, simple story, and it made me feel happy family feels.

The book’s ending was utterly charming, and I thought the messages were so great. It’s all about family being what you make it and life taking unexpected turns. There’s a pretty large character arc for Bett’s grandmother, actually, and, for an adult reading this book, it’s a reminder that you don’t need to be done growing, changing, and having fun just because you’ve hit a certain age. That’s something we can all stand to remember from time to time.

The audio performances are all fantastic and the characters are very well cast. I’d highly recommend it if you’re thinking about reading this book. However, I do have one quibble. The first couple hours of the audiobook are all Bett and Avery replying to one another in a single email thread, and the producers of the audio had the narrators read out every single Re: in the email’s subject every single time. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot of Re:s. Ultimately, I found it funny enough it didn’t bother me too much, but wow that wasn’t a great decision. I’d be curious how many minutes shorter this audiobook would be if you took out every single Re:. I’m guessing minimally half an hour.

To Night Owl from Dogfish isn’t my usual sort of read at all, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. All the characters are charming, and the story’s fun and light-hearted.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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