When Mr. Dog Bites

Brian Conaghan. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61963-346-9
In this no-holds-barred coming-of-age story, Conaghan’s U.S. debut, the British author introduces 16-year-old Dylan Mint, who struggles daily with Tourette’s syndrome. When Dylan learns that he’s likely to die in a few months, he sets out to accomplish three things: have sex with a girl, help his best friend Amir overcome prejudice, and get his soldier father home from Afghanistan. Naturally, nothing goes as planned, as Dylan discovers truths about his family, his own condition, and the people in his life. Focused through narration rife with bursts of profanity and Cockney rhyming slang, this story takes on an almost hallucinatory tone (“ ‘BIG GIANT SHITE’ I shouted, then whooped a few times and then headed back to class in a massive daze”). It’s nevertheless an uncompromising look at the effects of Tourette’s, autism, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder on those who have them and their friends and family. Though the story occasionally goes astray amid a meandering plot and dialogue that takes effort to unpack, Conaghan, who has Tourette’s himself, does an excellent job of portraying his unconventional and memorable protagonist. Ages 14–up. Agent: Ben Illis, the Ben Illis Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 06/10/2014
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-68119-018-1
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