Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Contemporary, Middle-Grade
Publication date: October 19th 2013
by Leap Books
Luke Riley is lost. His mother's recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three Bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. The summer after sixth grade looms in Luke's mind as a long, lonely three months where the only thing he can look forward to is watching The Weather Channel. Luke is fascinated with the weather, but since his mother's death in a storm, he is also terrified. Even the promised 13th birthday present of a Bloodhound puppy fails to lift Luke's spirits. He would rather have a different breed - a petite Papillon, but his father insists he get a Bloodhound.
When Luke decides to get the Bloodhound from Willajean, a dog breeder who owns Storm Watcher Kennel, he works out a deal to help at her kennel in exchange for the expensive dog. Thrilled to have a summer with a purpose, Luke befriends Willajean's daughter, Megan and together they plan how Luke can get a Papillon puppy instead of a Bloodhound. But nothing seems to work as they struggle with stubborn fathers, summer storms, unhelpful siblings, and hidden guilt. Can one little white dog really save both families?
-A copy was provided by Leap Books for review-
This was my first book by Maria V. Snyder, though it was also a Middle Grade. It’s a quick, short read about a boy terrified of storms and a passion for dogs.
After having lost his mother, Luke is still adjusting to having this big hole in his life. He gets a summer job at a dog kennel where they breed and train dogs. It’s a perfect book for dog lovers. We get into dog training, especially tracker dogs, which I find kind of fascinating. But the best part of this novel for me was its characters. We have this boy who’s so sweet. His emotions and blame for his mother’s death broke my heart. I also loved the bond he has with his family. Even though they were in rough waters at the time, you could still tell they cared for each other in the moments where things mattered. We also meet a woman who fills the motherly figure a little bit. She becomes a rock for Luke to lean on. Someone – and somewhere – else he can turn to when he’s feeling trapped.
Throughout this novel we see Luke find himself, find what he’s good at and what he needs to overcome to get there. It’s a journey to self discovery. For an MG novel I was not expecting this level of depth. Not to say MG novels are generally superficial, but it was a very realistic look at grief, self blame, and deep rooted fears.
With all that positive, why didn’t I rate this any higher than 3? For one, due to the small number of pages I didn’t get more than a brief foray – albeit a moving one – into these people’s lives. I didn’t not connect with them, but it did not get me completely invested. For another, I found it was fairly predictable. I could have told you how it would end in the first quarter and I would have had it nailed, more or less a few details. On the same note, I found the ending was a little too perfectly worked out. MG novels do tend to have more Happily Ever After endings, I guess.
I know this review is short – but so is the book. I really don’t have much else to say about it. Overall it was a sweet read and dog lovers, especially, are sure to enjoy it.