Thursday, July 28, 2011

July Book Pick -- A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron

I love books that are contemporary yet have the feel of "timeless classic," and A Dog's Way Home certainly fills that bill. I also like "Incredible Journey" stories (blubbered over the 3-part, I think, "Lassie's Odyssey" episode on Lassie when I was 10 or 12), and though not a dog-lover per se, think shelties are very cute.

Abby, 11, and her sheltie, Tam, are Dog Agility champions. After another contest win in Virginia, her family is in a serious accident on the way home to small-town North Carolina. Abby ends up in the hospital, and Tam's cage, which was in the back of the truck, flies out and lands in a stream. By the time Tam escapes the cage, he's many miles from the accident scene. Abby, released from the hospital, is determined to find Tam again, and Tam is every bit as single-minded about getting home to "his girl," although he has 400 miles to go. The chapters alternate between Abby, in first person, and Tam, in third. 

As I said, I'm not a dog lover. But I found the sheer loyalty of Tam powerful, and, humbling -- there's really no other word. Yet Tam is an animal, and during his months-long odyssey, through the companionship of a small coyote, he learns to live wild. He forgets his name. He meets people and animals he both can and can't trust. He ends up in a shelter and is almost adopted. Somehow, though, he always remembers himself and resumes his journey, whether it's because his potential new owner names him "Sam" and that rings a bell, or because he's driven off, assumed, in his emaciated state, to be rabid. Reading, I had the distinct feeling that dogs are created for loyalty, and I found that wonderful.

Abby, too, never gives up hope that Tam will return. Of course, everyone in her life tries to help her face that her dog is gone, but she will not give in to such thinking. It's a great compliment to the writing that Tam's story, with its inherent adventure component, doesn't take over the book. Abby's chapters are absorbing, too. Besides efforts to locate Tam, there's an unexpected move to Nashville when her dad's band gets its shot at a recording contract, and a surprise friendship with the weird girl in her new school, who turns out to be the daughter of Nashville's hottest new country star, and whose brother's mapping expertise helps push the search for Tam to a new level. In other words, Abby doesn't waste away pining for her dog, which adds weight and respect to the "never give up" message.

Because some kids will not want to read a story in which the dog dies, a recommendation of a book like this almost requires a spoiler: The dog doesn't die; the pair IS reunited. And the dog doesn't just fight to return to a girl who passively waits; both girl and dog are instrumental in finding each other.

This is a just plain good read. Highly recommended.


Andrea Mack said...

Marcia, I read this book and really enjoyed it. So did my 12-year-old. She really liked the perspective of Tam and couldn't put this book down.

Vijaya said...

This would be a lovely book for my daughter ... and yes, she bawls if the dog dies, so this is good.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

It sounds like a wonderful mg novel. I love a happy ending. :)

Jeff King said...

Sounds great.

Kelly Hashway said...

You know I was reading your review thinking this is probably going to be a sad book. I'm glad you gave a spoiler because I couldn't read a book where the dog dies. I just love dogs too much. I'm happy to hear this one has a happy ending.

Marcia said...

Andrea -- I felt the same way. This one was hard to put down.

Vijaya -- She may bawl, but death won't be the reason. :)

Sharon -- This is one of my favorites of the year so far.

Jeff -- It is. :)

Kelly -- It's a realistic book that's not a downer, which I think is refreshing. I think you'll enjoy the reunion. :)

Bish Denham said...

YEAH for a happy ending! I am definitely a dog person. I liked those wolf-dog stories like Kazan the Wolf-Dog. And I LOVED The Incredible Journey when I first read it, near sobbing at the end when they three finally make it home.

C.R. Evers said...

Sounds like a book I'd get into. I need to check this out!

anna said...

This looks great and these kinds of 'spoilers' are always much appreciated I think!

cleemckenzie said...

I have a hard time reading a book when any animal dies, so glad you told me this one lets that beautiful dog live.

Thanks, Marcia.

Marcia said...

Bish -- A student of mine wrote a book about wolves that I really liked. As a child, I pushed stuffed dogs, not dolls, in my doll buggy. It must be reality I have trouble with. :D

CR -- If this book is your type, I'm sure you'll like it.

Anna -- Yes, there IS a time for spoilers, isn't there?

Lee -- I do think the happy ending will make all the difference for a lot of readers. It is NOT "more literary" to kill off the dog. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey there, You have done an excellent job. I will certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends.
I am sure they'll be benefited from this web site.

my site - Taco Bell

Anonymous said...

Saved as a favorite, I love your site!

Visit my blog post ...

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog
and I am impressed! Very helpful info specially the last part :) I care for such
info much. I was looking for this particular information for a long time.
Thank you and good luck.

my web-site: get views youtube

Anonymous said...

Having read this I thought it was very enlightening.
I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this content together.

I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and commenting.
But so what, it was still worthwhile!

Also visit my website; you Tube views

Anonymous said...

Hello, I believe your site may be having web browser compatibility problems.
When I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, when
opening in I.E., it's got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, fantastic website!

Look at my blog post - free tacos at taco bell

Anonymous said...

This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am genuinely happy to read everthing at single place.

My website :: best acne treatments

Anonymous said...

Genuinely no matter if someone doesn't be aware of then its up to other viewers that they will help, so here it occurs.

my weblog breville juicers

Anonymous said...

Simply want to say your article is as astonishing.
The clearness to your post is just nice and that
i can think you are an expert in this subject. Fine together with your permission allow me to snatch
your RSS feed to keep up to date with drawing close post.
Thanks 1,000,000 and please continue the enjoyable work.

Here is my webpage :: acne treatment review

Anonymous said...

It's really very complex in this busy life to listen news on Television, so I just use internet for that reason, and get the most up-to-date information.

my page: tacos

Anonymous said...

You can definitely see your skills in the article you
write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you
who aren't afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

My blog:

Anonymous said...

If some one desires expert view about running a blog then
i propose him/her to visit this webpage, Keep up the fastidious job.

Also visit my webpage ::

Anonymous said...

I could not refrain from commenting. Very well written!

Feel free to visit my webpage ... videos

Anonymous said...

Article writing is also a fun, if you be acquainted with
afterward you can write or else it is complicated to write.

my web page; grand theft auto vice city stories cheats

Anonymous said...

Thankfulness to my father who informed me on the topic of this web site, this website is genuinely remarkable.

Feel free to visit my blog post

Anonymous said...

It is truly a great and helpful piece of information.
I'm glad that you just shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

Also visit my weblog - gta san andreas cheats pc

Anonymous said...

Thanks for one's marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it, you are a great author. I will make sure to bookmark your blog and will come back sometime soon. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great work, have a nice morning!

Here is my page - clip in extensions cheap ()

Anonymous said...

We stumbled over here by a different website and thought
I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following
you. Look forward to checking out your web page yet again.

Also visit my web blog; coffee machine **