cover image LADY: My Life as a Bitch

LADY: My Life as a Bitch

Melvin Burgess, . . Holt, $16.95 (235pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7148-1

Burgess, acclaimed British author of Smack and Bloodtide, is a fearless writer. Here he once again creates satisfyingly flawed characters with strong sexual drives and compromised morals. A selfish, hedonistic 15 year-old gets turned into a dog by an alcoholic bum with magical powers. For a while, Sandra becomes the pet of her addict transformer, but soon realizes the relationship is toxic: "I was like a hundred other girls, who like to think they can change the man they love—the man who is ruining your life day by day—into something worthwhile." Sandra finds she savors the pleasures of dog life—sensual, irresponsible and impulsive—and runs off with two other former humans, the id-driven Fella and his nostalgic sidekick, Mitch, both of whom willingly oblige when she goes into heat. "People were watching and I didn't give a toss. Why should I care who watched? Life is so much simpler when you're a dog." The narrative intermittently flashes back to episodes from the narrator's human life, which charts her behavior as it grows wilder and more uncontrollable. The conflict comes when Sandra remembers her family and tries to communicate with them, vowing to give up the doggy ways that have characterized her in both human and canine forms and planning instead to be a considerate, more conformist person. But can she go back? Is her untamed life a wish fulfilled? Burgess keeps the suspense high to the very last. This seductive volume is as raw and ravenous as its subject. Ages 14-up. (May)