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Extended Audio Sample Cowboy & Wills: A Love Story Audiobook, by Monica Holloway Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (326 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Monica Holloway Narrator: Monica Holloway Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2009 ISBN: 9781442300668
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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 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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A young boy with autism is able to make friends and with the aid of his pet dog named Cowboy. Pet can help open up social doors.” 

    Temple Grandin, New York Times bestselling author of Animals in Translation and Animals Make Us Human

  • Cowboys & Wills is the very best kind of memoir: a quietly profound story that reminds everyone of simple acts of love. Holloway and her remarkable son are bound to inspire and transform many lives.” 

    Hope Edelman, New York Times bestselling author of The Possibility of Everything and Motherless Daughters

  • “A boy and his dog—that is sacred stuff. Layer onto that autism and the singular love of a mother and you’ve got the making for deeply wonderful reading. Monica Holloway is any one of us, doubled over with hope and pain and wishing.” 

    Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place

  • “Monica Holloway has written one of the most extraordinary memoirs I’ve ever read. Tender, loving, and heartbreakingly intimate, it chronicles her struggles 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, senior editor, Parents

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeanmarie Kleppick | 2/18/2014

    " Wonderful memoir. Impressed upon me our responsibility to listen to our children because sometimes they intuitively know what they need and it's or job to interpret whether the need is fundamental or peripheral. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Briana Kelly | 2/15/2014

    " Loved the story but too heartbreaking! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 2/2/2014

    " Monica Holliday is one of the best contemporary writers I have read, however, this one falls short of her memoir Driving With Dead People which I can't recommend highly enough! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amber | 1/29/2014

    " This is a really nice book. I read if for a special education class, but really it isn't about special education. It's about the relationship between a little boy with autism and his dog as viewed by the mother. It is an easy read but, warning, it is a tear jerker!! If you're anything like me, you'll need tissues! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan Hagans | 1/29/2014

    " A definite tear jerker, but great book!! If you cried as much as I did reading "Marley & Me", have tissues on hand. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susie | 1/21/2014

    " For someone who is a "critically acclaimed author," I expected better writing. Still, the story was touching and I'm glad I read it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 1/17/2014

    " Touching true story written by the mother of a little boy with autism who is nurtured and encouraged by his loving golden retriever, Cowboy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cindy Wood | 1/14/2014

    " Great story about the saving love between a autistic boy and his dog "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 1/8/2014

    " Sweet memoir about an autistic boy and his dog. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracy | 1/8/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book. A great story that spoke to me even though my child is not autistic. I loved the interaction between Cowboy and Wills! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robin | 1/7/2014

    " Non-fiction story of a little "awesomism" boy told by his mom. Cowboy is his sweet beloved girl dog. The book is quite tender, honest and heart wrenching. Be forewarned if you choose to read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Audrey | 1/1/2014

    " I just finished reading this book. I really liked the tender relationship between the golden retriever Cowboy and Wills, a young compassionate boy struggling with autism. The parents are heroic in their quest to help their son. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maddie | 11/21/2013

    " One of the best books ever. Throughout the book I was amazed at how much Wills was able to break out of his shell and embark on a journey with Cowboy. After reading the book, I immediatly went to play with my own golden retrievers, thankful for everlasting friends. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 11/15/2013

    " Great book about a boy with high functioning autism and how his dog, Cowboy, takes him to people and places he would normally have a hard time with. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Helen Southall | 11/12/2013

    " Very good story of an autistic boy and how he begins to make contact with the world through his dog. If you know a child that is autistic, this is a really good read for the information about dealing with that disorder. The relationship of the boy and his dog is also endearing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenni | 10/17/2013

    " Oh the things we do for our children. This was such a heart warming story about how animals can help with disabilities. I am not even an animal person either but it was amazing how the world opened up when this boy got his dog. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chatty | 8/24/2013

    " Make sure you have a kleenex. It was wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karin Kaufman | 12/4/2012

    " Terrific read! A wonderful, heartfelt story! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Crystal | 3/20/2012

    " Loved thid book, and of course cried like a baby. I found myself getting really annoyed by the mom. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Juuli | 2/21/2012

    " I laughed and I cried reading the story about Wills and Cowboy. It's an amazing story about love and friendship. Dogs are wonderful pets and they can improve our lives in a way you can't even imagine. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alora | 10/23/2011

    " this boy has autusim and gets a puppy named cowboy and he finds out how to live life with cowboy in danger "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 10/7/2011

    " Sweet and sometimes sad story of an autistic boy and his dog, and good insight into the challenges of raising an autistic child. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathryn | 8/6/2011

    " Cute book. Reads like a movie script which is what I'm sure is what the author had in mind. You'll need hankies for the ending. Best off just waiting for the movie. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 ObsidianCub | 4/23/2011

    " Borrowed this to read on holiday and cried at the end. The love this author has for her family shines right the way through this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynette | 12/23/2010

    " Autism is so unfair. Great story of a loving family.
    Also, how we should always search for anything that can help curving autism and in this story it was a dog named Cowboy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jenni | 7/18/2010

    " Oh the things we do for our children. This was such a heart warming story about how animals can help with disabilities. I am not even an animal person either but it was amazing how the world opened up when this boy got his dog. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 6/20/2010

    " The story of a family dealing with Autism. Well told by the Mom. I enjoyed it, liked the family and felt with them as they faced life with strength and determination. It is also the story of a dog (and may other animals...)and the wonders of pet therapy--even when done unintentionally sort of.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susie | 5/29/2010

    " For someone who is a "critically acclaimed author," I expected better writing. Still, the story was touching and I'm glad I read it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 SueAnn | 5/13/2010

    " The author shares her personal story about raising a child with Autism. Filled with humor (you will laugh out loud), a menagerie of pets and all that she has learned along the way. You will find this book inspirational and hard to put down. Especially recommended for parents and teachers. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 MariAn | 3/27/2010

    " Excellent detailed true story of the journey of Wills (autistic) and Cowboy his dog who gives him courage to do the things he finds difficult, such as going swimming, trick or treating, or being in groups of people/noise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anita | 3/24/2010

    " mother writes of learning of and dealing with her son Wills' autism. Their dog Cowboy becomes a bridge for Wills to relate to other children. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tracy | 3/22/2010

    " I really enjoyed this book. A great story that spoke to me even though my child is not autistic. I loved the interaction between Cowboy and Wills! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 3/19/2010

    " Great book about a boy with high functioning autism and how his dog, Cowboy, takes him to people and places he would normally have a hard time with. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Helen | 3/18/2010

    " Very good story of an autistic boy and how he begins to make contact with the world through his dog. If you know a child that is autistic, this is a really good read for the information about dealing with that disorder. The relationship of the boy and his dog is also endearing. "

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About the Author

Monica Holloway is the critically acclaimed author of the memoir Driving with Dead People. She is an official spokesperson for the National Center for Family Literacy and Autism Speaks, raising awareness and participation for two issues she cares about deeply as a mother and author. She is the recipient of 2011 Women of Distinction Award from the Special Needs Network for her work in the community. She lives in Los Angeles with her family, two golden retrievers, a hamster, four hermit crabs, three dumpy frogs, two rabbits, and six neon tetras.