Reviewed by Janine Cobain
The incredible true story of how one man turned his life around through the companionship of his best friend.
For years, John Dolan had been living rough, trying his best to get by. Born and bred on the estates of east London, his early life was marked by neglect and abuse, and his childhood gift for drawing was stamped out by the tough realities outside his front door. As he grew older, he found himself turning to petty crime to support himself and ended up in prison. On coming out, with a record and no trade, he soon found himself on the streets, surviving day-by-day, living hand-to-mouth.
It wasn't until he met George, a tearaway Staffy puppy, that his life changed for the better. To begin with, George was a handful: he had been abused himself and was scared of human contact. But in a matter of weeks. John and George had become inseparable. It was then that John decided to pick up his long-forgotten gift for drawing, sitting on Shoreditch High Street for hours at a time, sketching pictures of George which he would sell to passers-by. With his best friend by his side, and a pencil in his hand, John suddenly found his life's calling.
Last autumn, John put on his first gallery show just across the road from where he had sat and sketched for three years. It sold out. Now, John and George are no longer homeless and live just around the corner from where they first met on the streets.
John and George is – quite simply – a must read. At its core it is a heart-warming ‘rags-to-riches- story of one man (and his dog) overcoming adversity using his talent, however it is much more. This story highlights how easy it is for someone to end up on the streets; a couple of foolish decisions was all it took for John to end up homeless. For me, reading this has made me more aware of the forgotten society who live on our streets.
Thankfully, for John, and George, someone had the vision to look past his circumstances and see the real talent he possessed and helped to turn life around for the likeable pair. This isn’t a particularly long book and is a very easy read – I read it in a day – and even my husband (probably read 6 books in his life) loved it.
Genuine, lovely, feel-good read; perfect when you need a little reassurance that things will often work out well in the end.
I'd like to thank Najma at Century for sending a copy of this book to Janine, and Janine for reviewing it for the blog.