Notes From The Dog by Gary Paulsen

December 9, 2009 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

This is a sweet quick read of a book with a message.  Finn is a teenager who finds it difficult to talk to people, although we only know this because he says so…Over his summer vacation he can’t wait to read a ton of books and talk to as few people as possible.  However, a new neighbor moves in next store and she is so outgoing and full of life that he can’t help but be swept up in her spirit.  It doesn’t hurt that she young and pretty, too.  She hires him to create a garden in his own yard (for her to appreciate as the neighbor) because she is too weak to garden herself; she is undergoing chemo treatments for her cancer.
It turns out that although Finn really isn’t cut out for gardening, he benefits a tremendous amount by spending time with Johanna.  He and his best friend end up getting intimately involved in Johanna’s life, helping her to attain her goal of collecting $10,000 in sponsors for her to participate in a triathalon where all of proceeds go towards cancer research. Johanna helps Finn to gain self-confidence and realize that he may actually be able to talk to lots people  — even girls he likes.  I wish that this book had more depth – Paulsen draws great characters but then only seems to scratch the surface of them.  Because of this, the book starts to feel simple and a little bit like a mechanism to push “the cause.”  That being said, simple it may be, but it was a good story that held my attention and I would recommend it lower level middle school readers.
Amy Kaplan, Briarcliff Manor

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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