‘The Wonder of Lost Causes’ is the Kind of Novel We Need Right Now [REVIEW]

black Labrador

An old dog named Whistler adopts a young boy with with an incurable disease in Nick Trout’s The Wonder of Lost Causes. (Photo by Lali Masriera, Flickr)

A mother’s love knows no bounds and she’ll do anything for her ailing child. Well, almost anything. Discover the one straw that could break the camel’s back for even the best mom in Nick Trout’s heartfelt new novel, The Wonder of Lost Causes.


William Morrow

Jasper is a charming little boy with an incurable lung disease called cystic fibrosis. His mom, Dr. Kate Blunt, worries about him constantly. After all, Jasper often feels like he has a boa constrictor wrapped around his chest as he fights for every breath he takes. As a result, his daily health care regime is stringent and complicated, and oftentimes proves daunting even on the best of days. So it is no surprise that Kate’s always told her son he can’t have a dog.

Living pet free isn’t easy for either of them, especially given that Kate is a veterinarian in charge of a Cape Cod animal shelter where she strives valiantly to find forever homes for every creature that crosses her path. She takes this mission seriously, but when an old, ugly dog named Whistler enters her life, she’s at a loss. Who will ever adopt this wretched animal who has obviously been abused and is covered in scars?

Despite his outward appearances, however, Whistler has a heart of gold and forms an instant attachment to Jasper. The boy and the dog are inseparable and seem to communicate in a language of their own, even though Whistler has never made a sound. Like at most shelters, the dog’s days are numbered, and Jasper will go to any lengths to find his new pal a home. But Whistler has no intention of going anywhere. After all, he’s adopted Jasper and Kate for a reason.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a book that will make you cry. That being said, tears aren’t always a bad thing, just keep your handkerchief at the ready because this story will grab your heart and give it a good squeeze on multiple occasions, often when you aren’t expecting it. But that only indicates what a phenomenal writer Trout is. Although this is my first experience reading one of his stories, I quickly realized I was in the hands of a master storyteller, one who understands our relationships with the furry friends in our lives, and what their presence can mean and do for us.

But this isn’t a James Herriot-type story, even though both Trout and Herriot are veterinarians. Whereas Herriot focused almost primarily on the animals in his stories, Trout has a firm grasp on how to write about family dynamics too, particularly in this case as he crafts a story about a family who suffers and grows through the trials that come when a loved one must live with a disability. In Kate, he’s created a mother who lives each day with the fear of losing her precious little boy, and as such she can be frustrating and skirts the edge of being overbearing. Then there’s Jasper, a child who knows things aren’t getting any better, yet doesn’t want to be defined by his illness and has the same love for animals that his mother does. And finally there’s Whistler, a dog who is more than just a pet and is representative of everything that is good and possible in these character’s lives. Through the entire story, we watch their battle of wills, their tender moments, and the love that flows very obviously between each character, and our hearts swell frequently as a result.

Trout’s The Wonder of Lost Causes is the kind of novel we all need right now and which every family should read and share, over and over again, until the pages are dogeared and tattered. It is fueled with compassion and hope, is by turns devastating and buoyant, and leaves us full of gratitude as we stroke the head of the faithful canine sitting beside us.

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Dr. Nick Trout

Dr. Nick Trout
(Photo by Deborah Feingold)


Dr. Nick Trout is a staff surgeon at the prestigious Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston. He graduated from veterinary school at the University of Cambridge in 1989 and is a Diplomate of the American and European Colleges of Veterinary Surgeons.

He’s also the author of five books, including the New York Times bestselling memoir Tell Me Where It Hurts, Love is the Best Medicine, Ever By My Side, The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs and Dog Gone, Back Soon.

Nick’s writing has been translated into sixteen languages and his books sell in more than thirty different countries around the world. 

He considers himself a runner (though his marathon days are behind him), an avid reader, and a passionate advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. 

He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Kathy; their daughter, Emily; their adopted Labradoodle, Thai; and Emily’s service dog, a black Labrador named Bella.

Visit Nick’s home on the Web at DrNickTrout.com.

By Nick Trout
464 pp. William Morrow. $16.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase The Wonder of Lost Causes at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, HarperCollins, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

The Wonder of Lost Causes is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

4 Responses to ‘The Wonder of Lost Causes’ is the Kind of Novel We Need Right Now [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Nick Trout, author of The Wonder of Lost Causes, on tour May 2019 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Nick Trout says:

    Wow! Totally humbled by this review. Speechless!
    Very many thanks,
    Nick Trout

  3. Sara Strand says:

    Stunning review! Thanks for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  4. trish says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Even my cold heart would be melted by a story like this. 🙂

    Thank you for being on the tour!

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