Guiding Emily by Barbara Hinske - A Book Review

As a nurse, I feel drawn to stories of individuals who overcome health challenges. I’m also extremely passionate about dogs and stories about them. Therefore, when I read the synopsis for Guiding Emily by Barbara Hinske, I knew this would be I book I would enjoy. 

Plot Summary

The story is told from the parallel narratives of Emily and Garth. Emily has a rising career in a technology company and a successful fiance whose also making his way up the corporate ladder. Emily suffers from a very serious medical condition whereby even minor trauma to her head can cause retinal detachment. In a more amusing story, Garth is a young lab puppy destined to be a guide dog for the blind. His story starts as a young puppy and concludes with his graduation from guide dog training.

While on her honeymoon, Emily suffers tragedy and loses her sight. Despite surgical intervention, this loss is permanent. Faced with learning to live in a world without sight, she experiences all the emotion you would expect: grief, depression and anxiety to name just a few. As time passes on, it becomes more and more evident to Emily who will support her, and sadly who won’t, as she journeys back to a life of independence.

Garth’s story is one that is humorous and loving, seen through the eyes of the pup. The author has a magical way of describing Garth’s experiences seen through canine eyes and I found this highly entertaining. The comic relief provided by Garth helps to balance the more emotional moments in Emily’s story.

Book Review

I really enjoyed this book. The character development was very good and I absolutely admire Emily's courage. I felt her grief for all that was lost as a result of her accident. The book has excellent flow, and was a quick read. Without giving too much away, I also felt disgust at those that did not provide support to Emily during a very challenging time in her life: an all too common tragedy that effects many with health challenges. I appreciated the bond she formed with her young friend and the extent of their friendship. Most of all, I loved Garth’s adventures and perspectives on his world.

It should also be noted that the author was inspired to write this book while touring The Foundation for Blind Children and is donating half her proceeds from the book to this Foundation. What a wonderful way to support this foundation! Well done!

Audiobook Review

I listened to the audiobook version of the book which was narrated by Julia Whelan and Fred Berman. Both narrators were articulate and easy to understand and I enjoyed listening to them. I must add that Mr Berman really created a whimsical voice for Garth which was a highlight for me. I listened to this audiobook at my usual 1.25x which provided a comfortable experience. I highly recommend the audiobook version of this book to those that enjoy this format.

What I Liked About Guiding Emily
  • The balance between tragedy and loss mixed with humour
  • The information gleamed of how guide dogs are trained
  • The information shared about what it might be like to live without sight.
I Recommend This Book To:

Those readers that enjoy stories of overcoming challenges and/or stories of relationships with animals.


Thanks to Netgalley and Podium Audio for the ARC of this audiobook in exchange for the honest review provided here.

My rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️/5.

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  1. This is a great review that you have written. I haven’t heard of this book or the author. Thank you for sharing this suggestion. I really need to read more this year and get away from the screens more in the evening.


  2. Is the chronic health condition where even mild head trauma can cause retinal detachment based on a real condition? It seems to strange to be real. It's an interesting concept to give the point of view of both the seeing eye dog and the person who loses their sight, I don't think I've come across anything like that before

    1. It is my understanding that this was a real condition. Thanks for your comment.

  3. What a great post this was, I really enjoyed reading this and it sounds like a book I would truly want to keep my eyes out for.

  4. This was a great review - it sounds like a really intriguing book! I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for it!

  5. I've not heard of this book before or the author but this really sounds like something I would enjoy!

    I genuinely really enjoy seeing your book reviews on my feed x

  6. This sounds so lovely. I also love a story of overcoming adversity and the combination of humour and tragedy is so true to life. I'll look this up x

  7. Liked the way you wrote the review. Quite meticulous! This plot reflects many lives in reality also and something which many of us can even relate to. And I think that is what makes this book a meaningful read. Thanks for sharing x

    Isa A. Blogger

  8. I am cautious of books dealing with grief and tragedy but this book sounds like humor mixes into the struggle and presents a positive change of life tale. Love the name; it reflects so well on the story!
    Thanks for sharing. :)

  9. Oh that sounds like a lovely book. Thanks so much for sharing. Will check this one out.

  10. Just reading the review, I feel sorry for Emily but also inspiring that she is fighting back and learning to how to deal with it. Interesting book!