The Greyhound

John Cooper. Dundurn, $12.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-55488-860-3
Canadian author Cooper (Season of Rage) chronicles a year in the maturation of 15-year-old Danny, whose alcoholic father, Jack, has reduced their family of four to renting a bungalow in his old hometown and is catching work as a church custodian. Danny is initially frustrated by Jack's adoption of a retired greyhound, Long Shot, though it's clear his real anger is reserved for his father. The boy vents in a journal that he keeps for his psychiatrist, excels at his local judo club, and befriends Ben, a refugee from Darfur. The arrival of an old friend of Jack's spurs a big-money scheme to train Long Shot for one last "race of the decade," and Danny bonds with Long Shot as they prepare. The novel can feel scattered, as Cooper jumps between extended conversations about Danny's father's alcoholism, excerpts from Danny's journal entries (as well as books and letters he reads), backstory about Long Shot, and school presentations, all of which slow the story's pace. These drawbacks aside, it's a quiet, thoughtful coming-of-age novel about a sensitive boy and his exceptional pet. Ages 12–up. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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