I don't enjoy survival-in-nasty-outdoor-condition books at all, so Gary Paulsen is not an author I select regularly. A couple of years ago, however, I laughed my way through Paulsen's The Amazing Life of Birds: The Twenty-Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech, so when I saw Notes from the Dog, I decided to give it a try. The protagonist, 14-year-old Finn, has big plans for the summer--avoiding people and reading a pile of books. He's willing to make a few exceptions: his dad, his friend Matthew who's living with him this summer, and his dog Dylan; overall, though, he's an awkward introvert. His new neighbor, twenty-something Johanna, sets him on a whole new course. She's undergoing treatment for breast cancer and soon has Finn creating a garden for her in his backyard, raising money for breast cancer research, and--shockingly--talking to more people than he ever thought possible--even girls.
This novel is an amazing, and short, trip down a very emotional road. I laughed and cried but did not feel manipulated. Paulsen is a wonderful writer who deftly handles difficult topics and leaves the reader feeling touched and thoughtful. Highly recommended for grades 6-9.
I read a lot, especially kid and young adult lit. This blog will review what I've been reading. I get most of my reading material from the library, plus I buy books at school book fairs and the usual stores. I look for freebies on Amazon for my Kindle, and I'm happy to review any ARCs or e-galleys I can get my hands on.