Though she doesn’t normally gravitate toward stories about animals, Melissa Posten, children’s and YA buyer at Pudd’nHead Books in Webster Groves, Mo., was smitten by a forthcoming middle-grade novel written partially in the voice of a dog.
I am not really a dog person. Actually, I'm not really an animal person. And if I'm being absolutely truthful, animal books are not my favorite—except for maybe some fantasy, and Kate DiCamillo—so you can imagine how I might feel about a non-fantasy book with an animal as a main character.
There are some exceptions, of course, but not many. A Dog’s Way Home is an exception. A big one. It's like The Incredible Journey meets Because of Winn-Dixie, and those comparisons are not something I make lightly.
Here's something I know: if the writing is great, it really doesn't matter if you love the subject matter on the surface. I opened this novel a skeptic and closed it in tears. The plot is simplicity at first glance: girl loves dog; girl loses dog; dog tries to get back to girl; girl tries to find dog. This is where Pyron's raw talent kicks in for the elevation. The story switches back and forth between 11-year-old Abby and her lost, beloved dog Tam, each fighting to get back to the other, and the voices are extraordinary. If an author can write a dog's voice so truthfully that the dog springs to life on the page; so truthfully that you can hear the dog's voice in your head—that author is one to watch.
Bobbie Pyron is an author to watch. She has created two characters whom you root for from page one, and I followed them breathlessly—heart in my throat; tears in my eyes—racing through the pages to find if the wish I was clutching onto would be granted. Early in the book, Pyron writes, “And when the person he loves most in the world calls, a dog can do nothing but go.” When a writer of enormous talent gives the world a book, a reader can do nothing but love it. I was powerless against the pull of this book.
A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron. HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 Feb. ISBN 978-0-06-198674-1