Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review: Être the Cow by Sean Kenniff

From the website: Être the Cow

ÊTRE THE COW is a tender and thought-provoking tale about a pasture bull, named Être, who is simple but self-aware. Powerless over his circumstances, Être struggles to accept the everyday indignity and brutal insignificance of his cow life at Gorwell Farm. Stranded in a world where the line between disgrace and dignity is drawn by a pasture fence, Être searches for understanding among the broads, bulls and calves on the pasture, but finds none. The grasses thin as the seasons pass, the cows hunger, and Être grows desperate. He is the only cow truly starving. Être must challenge fate in order to change his destiny.  

In French the word “être” means “to be” or “to exist.” Être’s struggle is a very human one. It is a search for meaning and significance in an uncertain world, and a battle for a better life. You will cheer. You will cry. 

You will read ÊTRE THE COW over and over again—then share its message.

  I have to admit, the concept behind this book is what really grabbed my attention. The main character, Être is a cow.  How cool is that? I really wanted to see how an author could make a cow interesting.  Well...Sean Kenniff did an outstanding job, especially because Être is the only cow in the pasture who is personified.  I was prepared for all the animals to have humanistic characteristics-sort of like Charlotte's Web, but they DIDN'T.  I found Être to be rather dynamic and interesting, in his own way.  He may not be very smart, but he sure is insightful.  His growth is clear, well defined-and that's exactly a style I want to learn from.  (Score: 9/10)

Dialogue:  Okay-dialogue is another interesting aspect of this story because Être can think like a person but not talk like one-so he can't really have a conversation (except in his own head with himself).  So many writers rely on dialogue to convey information. But that's not a tool Sean Kenniff could reliably utilize.  And often, inner dialogue gets boring, but not in this case. Être contemplates some really deep thoughts.  The dialogue that does occur between humans is well placed and useful.  (Score: 9/10)

Narrative:  Sean Kenniff's writing style is very concise and easy to read.  I got lost in his words and felt like I was one among many on the pasture.  Not once did I get lost or bored or distracted.  And honestly, I couldn't put the book down. Être the Cow is, as described above, a book I'll read more than once. (Score: 9/10)

Description:  Since I'm not a description lover, this book appealed to me.  There was just enough to convey the proper info but not in an overbearing way.  I got the sense of what Être was seeing, hearing and tasting as a cow-and I loved it.  (Score: 9/10)

Resolution:  As I read Être the Cow, I was curious as to how it could possibly end.  To avoid a spoiler, all I'm going to say is that I was shocked-almost mortified.  I found it a little excessive for my tastes, but it really drove the point home for me.  And isn't that why we read?  To be forced to think?  Well, that's why I read, anyway.  And the startling ending really did make me see the world in a slightly different way.  

I loved Être the Cow.  It was everything I'd heard it was.  I was moved by Être's outlook and could relate to his thinking-who hasn't felt trapped and desperate to escape?  Who hasn't look around at others and wondered what they're thinking.  Even with people I can converse with, I sometimes feel more confused than centered.  I, too, feel the desire to inspire only to be frustrated when others don't respond.  And to me, that's the whole point of the story.  Interestingly enough, the book also comes with a warning-the shocking part of the resolution I referred to.  Overall, I think this is a great story for so many people-from young adult on- to read.  I'd rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.


  1. Thank you so much for the thoughtful read, Loretta Jo. Wonderful insights and I am so glad you enjoyed Être. Thank you.

  2. Your book and this review was entirely my pleasure!!