Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story

Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story

3.7 41
by Monica Holloway

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Christened “charming” and “winning” by the Washington Post and “touching” by Publishers Weekly, celebrated author Monica Holloway’s deeply moving memoir shares the unforgettable story of an extraordinary little boy and the irresistible puppy who transformed his life.

The day Monica Holloway learns that her


Christened “charming” and “winning” by the Washington Post and “touching” by Publishers Weekly, celebrated author Monica Holloway’s deeply moving memoir shares the unforgettable story of an extraordinary little boy and the irresistible puppy who transformed his life.

The day Monica Holloway learns that her lovable, brilliant three-year-old son has autism spectrum disorder, she takes him to buy an aquarium. But what Wills really wants is a puppy, and from the moment Cowboy Carol Lawrence, an overeager and affectionate golden retriever, joins the family, Monica watches as her cautious son steps a little farther into the world.

With his new “sister” Cowboy by his side, Wills finds the courage to invite kids over for playdates, conquer his debilitating fear of water, and finally sleep in his own bed with the puppy’s paws draped across his small chest. And when Cowboy turns out to need her new family as much as they need her, they discover just how much she has taught them about devotion, loyalty, and never giving up.

Sometimes it’s what you don’t know to hope for that saves you. For Monica and Wills, salvation came in the form of a puppy with pale blond fur, chocolate brown eyes, a fondness for chewing the crotch out of underpants, and a limitless capacity for love.

Editorial Reviews

Carolyn See
…charming. Wills is a sweet and beautiful little boy; the photographs here as well as the text prove it. Cowboy is exemplary in her goodness. The author is forthright and winning.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
When Holloway learned that her son had autistic spectrum disorder she turned to pets, from hermit crabs to hamsters to Ruby the Rabbit, rather than give up hope on reaching her son Wills, so traumatized by sensory overload that even a bath is an excruciating experience: hurtful bubbles followed the water's horrifying disappearance down the drain. Eventually Cowboy, a puppy with golden hair to match Wills's, arrives to bring the Holloways their first shining moments of progress: "Cowboy was... leading Wills into the world of his peers" Touching moments dot the narrative, but it avoids sentiment much as Wills would if telling his own story; at no time is the story overwhelmed by the inherent adorability of its subjects. Though readers may end up starved for intimacy, it mimics Holloway's own struggle-loving a child outwardly unable of returning it-and heightens his moments of connection.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.\

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Gallery Books
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What People are saying about this

Elaine Hall
"Monica Holloway's, Cowboy & Wills is a refreshing look at high functioning autism. Her writing is personal, insightful, informative, and helpful. I highly recommend this book to families with autism, as well as to others who wish to gain a better understanding of the challenges and victories these families face."-- (Elaine Hall, CoachE! in Autism: The Musical and author of Now I See the Moon)
Barrie Gillies
"Monica Holloway has written one of the most extraordinary memoirs I've ever read. Tender, loving, and heartbreakingly intimate, it chronicles her struggle to coax her son Wills out of the shell of autism. I highly recommend this gorgeous and frank book about family, connections, and the ephemeral state of belonging."-- (Barrie Gillies, Parents magazine)
Hope Edelman
"Cowboy & Wills is the very best kind of memoir: a quietly profound story that reminds everyone of the power of simple acts of love. Holloway and her remarkable son are bound to inspire and transform many lives."-- (Hope Edelman, author of The Possibility of Everything and Motherless Daughters)
Jennifer Lauck
"Monica Holloway has me laughing AND crying within the first five pages of Cowboy & Wills. She crafts artful, and so often, hysterical observations of everyday life, while also revealing the many dimensions of heartache that come with being a mother who wants only the best for her family. Monica is the genuine article when it comes to pitch perfect memoir writing."-- (Jennifer Lauck, author of Blackbird and Still Waters)
Kelly Corrigan
"A boy and his dog-that is sacred stuff. Layer on to that autism and the singular love of a mother and you've got the makings for deeply worthwhile reading. Monica Holloway is any one of us, doubled-over with hope and pain and wishing."-- (Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place)
Temple Grandin
"A young boy with autism is able to make friends with the aid of his pet dog named Cowboy. Pets can help open up social doors."-- (Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make us Human)
Leslie Morgan Steiner
"An intimate, loving, funny look at the heartbreaking relationship between one mom, one dad, their very special little boy, and the puppy that was heaven-sent to love them all."-- (Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of Crazy Love and Mommy Wars)

Meet the Author

Monica Holloway is the critically acclaimed author of the memoir Driving with Dead People. She has contributed to the anthology Mommy Wars, from which her essay "Red Boots and Cole Haans" was described by Newsday as "brilliant, grimly hilarious." She lives in Los Angeles with her family.

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Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was difficult to finish this book due to the author's atrocious writing style. The closest I could describe it would be a teenagers journal, and poorly written at that. Anyone familiar with high functioning autistic children can clearly see that her son is not autistic. The author could have paid quite a bit less to buy her son's diagnosis. Though I do feel for any parent raising a child with social difficulties and sensory issues; this book is about a wealthy, narcissistic mother whining about her OCD.
Laine-librariancanreadtoo More than 1 year ago
“Mr. and Mrs. Holloway, I have some news concerning about your son.” When a parent hears this from their doctor, they know right away something is wrong. At first you don’t want to hear it. You don’t want to accept that there could possibly be anything wrong with your child. Yes, he may show some signs of being too clingy, he’s terrified of strangers, won’t look you in the eye, and a simple bubble bath is an excruciating experience, but there can’t be anything seriously wrong with him, it’s just….HIM. But when the Doctor confirms that your son has Autism, and that it is a “lifetime affliction” that there is no cure, it changes your life forever. The first thing that usually pops into a mother’s head is “How am I going to do this? What can I do to help my child? Will he ever know how much I love him?” Monica Holloway is lost in trying to find these answers for herself, but because of her unconditional love to her son she wants to make his transition to life smooth.  Many readers know that I love to read books and when it’s my turn at the Recommended Reading section, I like to read a “themed” book. This month is Autism Awareness Month and in honors of those that have Autism or a family member that has Autism I read the book “Cowboy & Wills”. It is a memoir of an unconditional love of a mother whose son has autism. Monica Holloway has read all the books; she read all the forums on the internet; she knew that some way, somehow her son was going to be alright, was going to be able to see the world for what it is and not be afraid of it. Monica didn’t realize that with all the doctors in the world, it was the love from a puppy that would change her sons’ outlook on life. The moment that her son was diagnosed, she went out to buy some fish to get Will interested in something. He seemed to be interested in the fish, in the hermit crab…a rabbit…a hamster and a sea turtle. Animals seem to keep her son stay in tune with life, and not crawl into his own shell. But with all those animals, Monica never imagined how much one Golden Retriever puppy would transform her son’s life….and hers. Because of her love for her son Wills, she bought him a Golden Retriever which Wills named her Cowboy. Cowboy is a female. She has blonde fur. While Wills not be able to look you in the eye, Cowboy would lick anybody close to her. Wills is in love. Where ever the dog went, Wills was sure to follow and vice versa. Wills wouldn’t leave the dog side for anything. And in turn, Cowboy showed that the big world that Wills is so afraid of isn’t so bad after all. A memoir so rich, so unforgettable that had me reaching for tissues, that I know you all will love and cherish. (I would like to dedicate this book to my cousin who has Autism.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. The love that the author put into every detail of this book really shines through. Had me in tears! I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent story, easy read, heartbreaking moments. If you love Golden Retrievers this is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sjum More than 1 year ago
As a mom to a 4 year old daughter with Autism and also a lover of animals, especially Goldens I was drawn to this book. Once I started to read the pages, I couldn't put the book down. I laughed, I cried, I felt like I was not alone. Monica's writing is incredible and the story is a beautiful one that will stay with me forever. I'm giving this book as a gift to friends. It helped heal my heart!! Monica's ability to tell her story and also put her thoughts and feelings into this book made it so powerful. I also loved reading about the therapies, difficult times with peers initially, doing this by yourself with little help from family and the incredible bond this amazing family has. Thank you for writing this book Monica!
kanellio65 More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful, amazing memoir that Monica Holloway shares with each lucky reader. Holloway writes beautifully and especially after I heard her voice on the short video about this book, I could hear her voice in my head reading to me as I read this book. This is a book filled with emotional tugs at your heart for many reasons. First and foremost, is Wills. Monica's son, Wills, was diagnosed at age three, with autism spectrum disorder. What is now fact is that 1 in 150 children born will be diagnosed with autism of which 1 in 84 are boys. As I was told when I was teaching, if you haven't already found someone in your life with autism, you will very soon. And my last two years teaching, I did indeed have 3 amazing children with autism in my classes...and I consider myself the lucky one to have been part of these very special youngsters who taught me so much. Wills is an amazing, intelligent, lovable child and when one realizes how his autism effects him, it is easier to see why he does things his way and you have to marvel at him as well as how his parents who devote their life and love to this child. His mother had to deal with each of Will's challenges in her own way and one of them was to bring pets into the home. This helped more than she knew and certainly when she did turn to psychologists and specialists she saw how these animals had helped Will to make transitions as it drew him out of his shell. Each hermit crab and rabbit were one more step to winning small battles in his young life. However, when the puppy that Will wanted so much became part of the family, Wills really began to make great strides especially in socialization. Instead of an introverted autistic child, he became a playful young boy who could laugh and enjoy new friends. With each of these small triumphs for Wills, there was also beneficial effects for Monica. She was able to realize that she had also become isolated in Wills' world before Cowboy came along and opened up many doors for both of them. Cowboy Carol Lawrence, an adorable golden retriever, came to Wills for Christmas as a puppy. Monica had a great deal of trouble finding this special dog that Wills wanted, and she finally had to get her from what she thought was a reputable pet store that supposedly didn't deal with puppy mills. Once Cowboy entered their lives, Wills was able to have more control over his life which was very important in dealing with his autism. His ability to transfer his fears and doubts to his loyal pet, helped him to lead a more "normal" childhood. And so, with this precious pup came new found hope. But when Cowboy herself has to face her own problems, she is not alone. She has a family that loves her and supports her in every way they can. As the reader becomes a part of this family's life, you will also feel the pain along with the triumphs that Cowboy, Wills, and his parents experience. Keep your tissues handy, but also enjoy the laughs at what I found to be one of the most enjoyable, well written memoirs I have read in a long time. Thank you, Wills and Monica for the pleasure.
Hvrby More than 1 year ago
Cowboy & Wills is one of the most touching, heartbreaking, endearing, and honest books I've read in a long time. This story of a loving mother, her adorable son (who happens to be autistic), and the incredible dog who changes their lives, it made me laugh, made me cry, and everything in between. The book takes you right along on the journey with them; I could hardly put it down. Not only is the story itself fascinating, but Holloway's writing really brings it to life. As the mother of an autistic child, the subject matter definitely hit home with me. But the writing is what made me an instant fan of Monica Holloway. I highly recommend this book. (Did I mention that I'm on my second reading?)
MomsChoiceAwards More than 1 year ago
Cowboy & Wills is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom's Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS's Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, and New York Times best-selling Author; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. . Parents and educators look for the Mom's Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families.
MonaWong More than 1 year ago
Memoirs like this can be maudlin and saccharine, but Holloway manages to walk the reader through her difficult situation with nuance, humor and originality. The tears that are shed while reading this book are well-earned, not easy shots. I learned so much about the day-to-day tribulations of raising a child with autism. The highs and lows are moving, compounded by the drama of the dog's own health. I would recommend this book for anyone who is looking for a way to reach a child with autism. It gives hope when there is darkness all around.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not love this book more. An inspirational story told in a clear-eyed, unsentimental way, yet it had me in tears by the end. I won't give anything away, but this is a real three hankie book! Read it and fall in love with Wills and his dog.
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