How to be a Good Creature – Sy Montgomery

How to be a Good Creature is Sy Montgomery’s way of exploring her life, doing so with the animals that have being involved with her life from her pets to research animals. Montgomery’s way of writing her memoir is innovative and imaginative. Who would have thought of telling parts of your life using the animals who also shared that time period with you? Sy Montgomery did, and I’m so glad that she thought of it. It was so fun to read her story this way.

Montgomery’s choice of illustrator, Rebecca Green, was a great one. She captures the personalities of each of the animals exquisitely. Some pictures feature a quote from the chapter, others just the animal. Even in though these images are black and white, aside from some text, they capture the eye and make you wonder if Green pulled these from snapshots that Montgomery had of the moments that they reflect, that’s how well they fit.

My main complaint with this is that it I wish it was longer. I feel like her life has a lot more interesting things in it outside of these animals and I wish that those events could have been addressed as well. However, this didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the memoir so it it wasn’t a huge problem.

I don’t know why I didn’t expect this from a book filled with animals but this memoir was sadder than I expected it to be. Many animals have shorter lifespans than people do, and  why wouldn’t I expect that their deaths to be included, when they had such an integral part of Montgomery’s life? While it was sad I appreciated that it was integrated into her memoir. Life isn’t always happy nor is it perfect.

How to be a Good Creature an interesting exploration of Sy Montgomery’s life. It was sad but also warm and fun. Montgomery is innovative by using the animals that filled her life to explore her own. It wasn’t my favorite memoir ever, but I didn’t hate it either.

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