Synopses & Reviews
Award-winning journalist Brian McGrory goes head to beak in a battle royale with another male for a top-spot in his home, vying for dominance with the family’s pet rooster.
Brian McGrory's life changed drastically after the death of his beloved dog, Harry: he fell in love with Pam, Harry's veterinarian. Though Brian’s only responsibility used to be his adored Harry, Pam came with accessories that could not have been more exotic to the city-loving bachelor: a home in suburbia, two young daughters, two dogs, two cats, two rabbits, and a portly, snow white, red-crowned-and-wattled step-rooster named Buddy. While Buddy loves the women of the house, he takes Brian's presence as an affront, doing everything he can to drive out his rival. Initially resistant to elements of his new life and to the loud, aggressive rooster (who stares menacingly, pecks threateningly, and is constantly poised to attack), Brian eventually sees that Buddy shares the kind of extraordinary relationship with Pam and her two girls that he wants for himself. The rooster is what Brian needs to be – strong and content, devoted to what he has rather than what might be missing. As he learns how to live by living with animals, Buddy, Brian’s nemesis, becomes Buddy, Brian’s inspiration, in this inherently human story of love, acceptance, and change.
In the tradition of bestsellers like Marley and Me, Dewey, and The Tender Bar comes a heartwarming and wise tale of finding love in life’s second chapter - and how it means all the more when you have to fight for it.
Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content.
“Brian McGrory has a sure hand for polished storytelling. He is able to wring maximum comic effect from the Terrible Pet genre and also to tell a heartwarming family tale without trying too noticeably to warm the heart…The subsequent bad-rooster stories, family discord and grudging acclimation by Mr. McGrory to life in a menagerie accomplish what is surely the desired end. They put Buddy into the Marley & Me league of winsome books about the hyped-up horrors and tender, unexpected rewards of pet paternity.” New York Times
“This is a laugh-out-loud read.” Chicago Tribune
"In this touching tale of how a feisty rooster, who constantly peers at the columnist through the window, made McGrory a better man, the columnist succeeds in telling the story of change with a healthy dose of humor...Lessons are learned here, often the hard way, but McGrory comes out the other side realizing how second acts can succeed if you give everyone enough space, love and respect. Especially the rooster." USA Today
“Poignant and funny…McGrory takes the pet memoir to a hilarious new place as a crazed rooster competes with him over who will rule his new family’s suburban roost…McGrory vividly explores his frustrations…detailing it all with self-effacing humor and a winning ability to dramatize the ‘man vs. rooster’ conflict with scenes that are self-revelatory and laugh-out-loud funny...It turns out that for McGrory, as it was for Emily Dickinson, hope is a thing with feathers." Boston Globe
“Can an ornery rooster really help a city-loving divorce adapt to family life in the suburbs? McGrory’s memoir will have you convinced.” People
"The very best of memoir writing — honest, clear, and so ultimately moving you feel as if you are best friends with Brian McGrory, though it will not make you want to run out and buy yourself a rooster." W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog's Purpose
"At turns hilarious and heart-breaking, Buddy is a book to crow about.” Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig and Birdology
“A book that makes us laugh and cry is precious, and as a man who has a rooster and writes about animals, Brian McGrory hit a home run for me with Buddy: How A Rooster Made Me A Family Man...Anyone who has ever loved an animal will want to go on this journey.” Jon Katz, author of Going Home, A Dog Year, and Dancing Dogs
"Hilarious and heart-warming, Buddy reminded me of Cheaper by the Dozen, only with animals. I flat-out loved this book." Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia and Buried Secrets
“A moving and funny account of one man’s journey from bachelor to husband and father aided by remarkable pets.” Publishers Weekly
Brian McGrory thought he had it all figured out: a great job, a condo in Back Bay, and his beloved golden retriever Harry by his side. But after Harry’s death, McGrory's life as a bachelor takes quite the turn. He falls in love with Harry’s veterinarian Pam, and leaves the city for life in the suburbs with Pam’s family and their two dogs, two cats, two rabbits, and Buddy—the self-assured family rooster who hates Brian’s guts.
These things never go as easily as they should. The commute is long, the kids were wary, and Buddy was constantly poised to attack. But rather than accept defeat, Brian eventually sees that Buddy shares the kind of extraordinary relationship with Pam and the girls that he wants for himself. Funnily enough, it’s the rooster’s tenacious devotion to the family that encourages a change in Brian’s perspective, and before long, the archenemy becomes his inspiration, helping Brian evolve into a true family man.
With luminous writing and expert comic timing, McGrory brings to life a classic story of love, acceptance, and change as one man’s nemesis becomes his madcap mentor.
Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content.
About the Author
Brian McGrory is a longtime newspaper reporter, editor, and columnist. Born and raised in and around Boston, he went to college at Bates College in Maine. He worked for the Patriot Ledger in Quincy, the New Haven Register in Connecticut, and has written for and edited the Boston Globe since 1989. He has a twice weekly column that appears on the front of the metro section, for which he has won the Scripps Howard journalism award, and is the author of four novels. He lives in Massachusetts with his entire family.
Reading Group Guide
1. At its heart a story both of incredible loss and the rejuvenation of finding new love, Buddy
tells a universal account of some major moments in life. Before he and Pam (and Buddy) found each other, Brian McGrory was utterly heartbroken by the loss of his beloved golden retriever Harry. Were you able to relate to Brian’s devastation? If you’ve lost a pet, how did that experience impact your life?
2. Some believe that when a pet dies, the best way to cope is to get a new one. Do you find that strategy helpful, or does it only exacerbate the loss? Brian didn’t try to replace Harry with anotherdog of his own. Why do you think that was?
3. Brian’s whole life changed when Harry’s health began to decline—notably, that’s how he met Pam. In your opinion, do you think this was good timing? Why or why not?
4. Do you personally believe, in general, that good things can come from bad? Why or why not? Have you ever experienced positivity as a result of something painful? Explain.
5. Establishing and growing into new relationships isn’t always easy, and it can be especially tough when other people, pets, homes, and jobs are involved. With all of this in mind, who do you think felt the most change in those early years: Brian, Pam, or Abigail and Caroline? Please explain.
6. Buddy was just a chick when Brian met him, but he stuck around well past his cute yellowfluff stage and proceeded to torture Brian for quite some time. Should Brian have been more persistent about getting rid of him? Why do you think he ultimately chose to accept Buddy? What would you have done in his situation?
7. A devoted city person for years, the move from Boston to the country wasn’t easy for Brian; it was a change that took quite a bit of patience and sacrifice, and it showed his dedication to Pam and her girls. Would you go to similar lengths for those you love? Do you have a limit? Please explain.
8. Brian often uses humor to recount his story. What do you think is the funniest part of this book? Why?
9. Toward the end of Buddy, Brian notes, “Never in my wildest fears did I ever think I would recall having a rooster in my yard—rather than inside my house—as the good old days.” By this point, he had evolved quite a lot as a person, a man, a husband, a homeowner, and a stepfather. Which part of his story do you think had the biggest influence on his becoming a family man? At what point do you think Buddy was most instrumental to Brian’s change?
10. Since the publication of this memoir, Buddy has unfortunately passed away. Do you think Brian, Pam, and the girls will get a new rooster? Why, or why not? Do you think they should?
In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal certain aspects of the story in this memoir. If you have not fi nished reading Buddy, we respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide.