Captain Luis Montalvan suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq in 2003, when he was ambushed at his remote base on the Syrian border. He re-enlisted, but found himself increasingly agitated and in pain. Then, back home after his second tour, he spiraled into PTSD-related depression and paranoia. He couldn’t hold a job, and his sudden bursts of anger, along with long periods of silence, alienated everyone in his life, even his family. Things got to bad that, for two years, he barely left his apartment.
Until he met Tuesday, a trained assistant dog with his own trust issues. Until Tuesday is the story of how two best friends, each broken in their own way, found salvation in each other, and regained the love of life they had lost.
This is not one of those “life lessons from my dog” books. I hate those. But we did realize early on that it had to include as little as possible about war—just enough to make people understand—and as much as possible about Tuesday. So the book begins with Tuesday’s training and takes the reader through his life before being adopted by Luis. There is more about Tuesday, in fact, than about Iraq. This is a dog book that happens to include war and recovery, not the other way around. It’s a positive, life-affirming book about about friendship, love and healing. And because of Tuesday, it’s often funny.
But it is also quite dark. Between and around the dog episodes, Luis lays bare the reality of PTSD: the physical pain, the despair, the anger at yourself for not being the person you were before. When Luis can’t sleep for four days, and Tuesday starts whimpering in pain because he has refused to sleep when his friend couldn’t, your heart will break. But when that whimpering causes Luis to check himself into the hospital, and escape his downward spiral, you will see the power of this bond. This isn’t about “life lessons;” Tuesday literally saved Luis’s life.
Reliving these years was hard for Luis. Very hard. It took him to painful places, and he would occasionally spiral into anger or disappear. But he was always honest, with himself and about himself. Readers can tell creating this book hurt, but that the hurt leads to healing. Because of that, the journey is one of the most uplifting you will read—and you know how uplifting dog books can be.
That honesty, I think, is why the book has been so success, and why I love it so much. There’s nothing else that describes PTSD so well: both how it feels, and how to live with it. Since publication in 2012, Until Tuesday has found its way into the hands of thousands of veterans and others suffering “invisible wounds” like depression, social anxiety, childhood trauma or non-combat-related PTSD. It has been passed around VA hospitals, military bases, and other places where it can do some good.
It has also found its way to the desperate loved ones of those suffering. Luis gets more letters from parents, spouses, and siblings of veterans than veterans themselves. Many say, “I finally understand. I gave it to my son/daughter/spouse/friend, and I am praying they will read it.” Some have let go of their anger at their Vietnam veteran parents or spouse; one wrote to say she cried for the first time for her World War II-veteran father, who drank himself to death in the 1950s.
In other words, Until Tuesday has made a difference. In many cases, it’s clear from the letters that it has changed lives. I hope it will touch your heart, too.
This is a profoundly honest book filled with vital lessons about loss, friendship, war and the loving bonds that can save us in our lowest moments. We are all lucky that Capt. Montalvan and his dog Tuesday found each other, for in their story we see the possibilities for our own lives.
Wow, what a book! I think I was crying on page 3. The collision of man and dog, and the unbreakable bond they form, made my heart leap…I dare anyone to read this book and not believe in the power of love to heal.