Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wild Life by Cynthia DeFeFelice

So I have a secret life in reading: I love outdoors books, commonly about boys and every once in a while about girls(because I haven't found that many with female characters). These usually include a dog and some kind of risk outside and inside (the character, that is). Where the Red Fern Grows was an all-time favorite of mine growing up, and I still love, love, love to read it. Truth. I can only imagine what it would be like to have a couple of amazing pups like Dan and Ann.

Actually one time in my life, I believe I did. I used to have a dog named Ren, goofy, strong, fast, he and I found each other when he was a couple of months old and I had just moved to LA for my first teaching job. South-Central Los Angeles, that is. That dog kept me sane every day of those nine months and a few days, and shortly after the school year ended, we were butt to butt in the truck seat, driving back home to Colorado, trying to figure out next steps in life. Fast forward a chunk of years later when my partner and I got together. She had a dog who was just like Ren but smarter, way more graceful, and  a whole bunch faster. Kelsey was a sweet dog and definitely as important to Laurie as Ren was to me. From the first moment together, the dogs were connected in their souls. I know it sounds crazy but from that first moment, they never had any interest in other dogs, they slept touching every single night and daytime nap, and they always stayed close together on our hikes, walks, and runs. They were like Old Dan and Little Ann. It was a sweet time, and watching those two dogs, I was frequently reminded of Wilson Rawls' classic tale.

Wild Life is a story of a boy whose parents both are called up to fight in Iraq at the same time. His folks decide he should go stay with his grandparents in North Dakota. Once there, he realizes some of the emotional baggage his grandparents carry. Days within his tense arrival, he finds a lost dog. Dog and boy connect at the hip and heart, boy realizes he won't be able to keep the dog, and they take off. It is a good story, one I can image readers who like stories like Rawls' tale will like. It is set in current day, and the text is somewhat simpler than Rawls' classic. Just like most juvenile-categorized books, it ends well.

What books did you read growing up that sit in your "secret read" categories? You might want to go check this one out if you are in the mood for dog-boy connection read.  I think you would like it.

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