Author: Janet Elder
Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Publication: September 28, 2010
Source: Crazy Book Tours
My Summary: Janet and Rich Elder’s son, Micheal, had been begging for a dog since he was four. Their busy jobs and hectic New York City lifestyle prevented them from caving for years. When Janet discovers she has breast cancer, though, she decides that 11 year old Michael should finally have his dog to help cope with the illness and the stresses it would bring. Huck, a toy poodle puppy comes home and steals their hearts away.Shortly after his arrival, the family goes on a vacation to Florida and they, apprehensively, leave Huck with Janet’s sister in Ramsey, New Jersey. Just a few days into the trip, the Elder’s receive a phone call… Huck has escaped through the fence. The devastated family returns to Ramsey immediately and begin an intense and all-consuming search for days in the freezing weather with help from many strangers in the small town.
My Thoughts: When I saw this ARC on the tour site, I knew I had to read it. I LOVE animals and I love memoirs, so it seemed like a great fit. I did like the book, but I do have a couple of issues that kept me from loving it. First, the story focuses and talks mostly about the family rather than Huck. I think it’s really important that in non-fiction stories such as this one that we do get to know the family behind the animal, but I wanted a lot more of Huck than I actually ever got. I’m thinking Marley and Me, where we see all of Marley’s crazy antics and fall in love with him. We never really get the chance to fall in love with Huck, though he does seem cute.
Second, the writing was extremely formal, even the dialogue, and by this I mean, it would say things like… “it is cold” or “they are searching.” Now, I don’t have the book so these are not direct quotes, but just an example of the kind of formal writing you’ll see when reading this… lots of spots where contractions should/could have been used but weren’t. It almost causes the dialogue to feel unrealistic at times. Perhaps the formal writing is because the author is a journalist? I dunno.
Aside from those grievances, this was an enjoyable story. I really enjoyed reading about her son, Michael, and all the things he did in order to try and get a dog, such as creating Powerpoint presentations for his parents. The beginning of the book does a nice job setting up the desperation and desire for the dog and makes it that much sweeter when he finally arrives.
I’d say the second half or so of the book is dedicated to the search. The family did everything they could to find Huck, plastering the town and nearby areas with posters offering rewards, going door to door inquiring about a lost dog, and approaching many random strangers. While some of this section of the book got tedious at times to read, it was so touching and heartwrenching to see the kindness of so many strangers… it was crazy how many people in the town offered their help… some even going so far as to search for Huck themselves. The family was devastated when Huck was gone, showing how important and life-changing animals can be.
While this book has its faults (for me at least), it does give me a bit of hope about humanity and the kindness of others. Sometimes it’s hard to find kindness in the world around us, but if we look hard enough, it’s there, in the smile of a stranger or in the eyes of a cuddly puppy.
My Rating: 3.5/5