Elementary Novels

Marley and Me by John Grogan

John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow furball of a puppy. Life would never be the same.

Marley quickly grew into a barreling, ninety-seven-pound streamroller of a Labrador retriever, a dog like no other. He crashed through screen doors, gouged through drywall, flung drool on guests, stole women’s undergarments, and ate nearly everything he could get his mouth around, including couches and fine jewelry. Obedience school did no good—Marley was expelled. Neither did the tranquilizers the veterinarian prescribed for him with the admonishment, “Don’t hesitate to use these.”

And yet Marley’s heart was pure. Just as he joyfully refused any limits on his behavior, his love and loyalty were boundless, too. Marley shared the couple’s joy at their first pregnancy, and their heartbreak over the miscarriage. He was there when babies finally arrived and when the screams of a seventeen-year-old stabbing victim pierced the night. Marley shut down a public beach and managed to land a role in a feature-length movie, always winning hearts as he made a mess of things. Through it all, he remained steadfast, a model of devotion, even when his family was at its wit’s end. Unconditional love, they would learn, comes in many forms.

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Marley and Me by John Grogan

My name is John Grogan and I love dogs. When I was ten years old, my father gave me my first dog. I called him Shaun.

Shaun was my best friend. He went everywhere with me and he was very obedient. When I called him, he came to me. He played with me and he walked next to me without a leash. In the car, he sat next to me quietly.

Marley and Me by John Grogan

After many years, Shaun died. He was fourteen years old. By that time, I wasn’t a boy; I was a man. I had my first job.

Shaun was a great dog. I wanted to get another dog, but it had to be as wonderful as Shaun.

Some years later, I moved to Florida and married Jenny. Jenny and I had jobs with newspapers. We were very happy. We were young and in love, and life was wonderful.

One day, I bought a plant for Jenny. It was very large, with beautiful white flowers. Jenny loved it – maybe too much. Every day, she gave it water. In the end, the plant got sick and died.

Some days later, I woke up early. Jenny wasn’t in bed. I found her at the table with a newspaper. She had a red pen in her hand.

“Jenny,” I said, “what are you doing?”

She showed me the newspaper. It was open at a page of ads. “Look at this, John,” she said.

I saw an ad with a big red line under it:

Beautiful Labrador puppies. Five weeks old.

“I can’t forget about that plant,” Jenny said. “Why couldn’t I look after a plant? I only had to give it water, but I killed it.” She looked sad, but then she smiled. “I can’t look after a plant, but maybe I can look after a dog. And later, maybe I’ll be ready for a baby.”

I thought about that. Jenny and I wanted to have children one day, but we loved dogs, too. Our little house was a good place for a dog. We lived near a park and near a beach. And the house had a big yard with lots of trees.

“OK,” I said. I put my arms around Jenny. “Let’s get a dog.”

So some days later, we drove to the address in the ad. The house was in the middle of some woods. A woman came to the door and there was a beautiful yellow Labrador with her.

“I’m Lori,” said the woman. “And this is Lily. She’s the puppies’ mother.”

“Where’s the father?” I asked…

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