SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
This would be a 3.5-star review because of textual flaws (and almost painful narration), but it's so important it really needs to be heard.
If you're an animal lover, don't worry: while brutal, it's not too terribly graphic, and... well, get a grip. This is what happens. This is why you love them and want to do something for their well-being. This is why you never want to buy a Michael Vick jersey. Seriously, I saw a documentary on him after this was all over, and he seemed so genuinely contrite that I thought, gee, maybe he really got it and regrets his actions (and I'm almost militant when it comes to holding grudges!)
But after listening to his actions prior to his court appearances? The many, many protestations of innocence? The rearranging of funds? The purchases he made while others were caring for the animals he brutalized? I'm not feeling that warm and fuzzy about him right now.
But let's go back to the book. The flaws. If you can get past the first part, you're golden. Because it does some plodding. And really. We don't need to have the "thoughts," the "feelings," stated for us. I believe that animals think and feel, but to have an author point out exactly what's going on in their heads is unrealistic and annoying. Go by their actions, their responses. Those are suggestive enough of the trauma they've suffered, what they must've endured. Those will haunt you and make you damned near cry because you'll be able to fill in the blanks very well on your own. The necropsy report on how one dog in particular died will appall and enrage you (if you have even one sensitive bone in your body).
The second flaw is the narration. Garcia isn't wretched, not the worst by any stretch of the imagination, but he delivers the text with such silences between sentences, such pregnant pauses, it's hard not to doze off if you listen after work, and you're kind of tired. (Fortunately, anger will rear it's head, and you'll wake up because of the story.) Also, it's not until the end that he slips in emotion or emphasis to what he's reading. And that's startling because really, it's unexpected at that point since he's spent most of your listening hours in something short of a monotone.
But, BOY! What a story! This is about justice. It's about fear. It's about overcoming fear and learning to trust, to love, to live and breathe. And it'll make you want to hug your dog (or cat, or hamster) and watch them as they enjoy the lives you've given them. Because some animals have never been able to run and play. Some have never known the excitement of a new smell. Some have never known the comfort of a soft hand or a kind word. And bravo to the rescue groups who step in here, most of them smaller and not so well-funded or well-known. Bravo to the foster people who really take their time and put their hearts and souls into doing whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to bring peace and joy into the lives of the abused.
Michael Vick flunked a drug test during his time before sentencing: said he smoked the marijuana because all of the stress "the ordeal" put him through. Too bad his dogs didn't have anything like pot... for what he put them through.
"You are sacred ground." "Who are you?" "Forget every 'I' that you think you are." There are multitudes of pithy little statements (Wait! That sounds like I'm making light of them when actually I appreciate the hell out of their conciseness and how they made a difference when I heard them) like these throughout this audiobook that highlight Holden's lessons. Remember them, and you'll do well because this is a very thought-provoking, emotionally evocative work. Each chapter starts with a story of a client or comes from his own personal experience and expands to give the listener meaning. There are workaholics, sufferers of chronic fatigue, people attached to suffering or drama (and a truly painful story of a young man who developed agoraphobia after someone "shot" him. What a harrowing experience), and all of them become wonderful, wonderful lessons for us all in Holden's hands.
What keeps "Shift Happens" from being a 5-star listen is 1) The lessons only skim the surface (which of course they're meant to. Still...), and 2) Ack! The music in between chapters seriously drove me nuts. Granted, I listened to it once in one sitting, then a second time at a slower pace (Did I mention that I'm a mess?).
Whatever. The fact that there are so many little lessons means that there's something for everyone. And self development? Sometimes that just means excessive thinking has to give way to living with love, yes?