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FRIENDS FOR LIFE by Billi Tiner

FRIENDS FOR LIFE

By Billi Tiner

Pub Date: May 12th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1477435717
Publisher: CreateSpace

Two puppies experience an unexpected adventure in Tiner’s middle-grade reader.

Bo meets Rico at a pet store after being separated from his mother for the first time. The puppies bond over their loneliness. Their chances of being adopted by a family are thrown into disarray when a pair of thieves breaks into the store and steals them both. Bo and Rico manage to escape but find themselves out on the streets for the first time in their young lives. A junkyard dog named Tank teaches them the ways of the streets. However, after Tank is unexpectedly adopted, Bo and Rico once again find themselves on their own. Months pass before the twosome happen upon Pearl, a pampered poodle who has been mistakenly left behind by her owner, Margaret. The puppies’ new mission is to find Margaret and reunite her with Pearl. Instead of concluding with Bo and Rico finding their own new homes, however, the story ends with the pair returning to the streets and happily reaffirming their friendship for one another. Tiner (Welcome Home, 2011) manages to breathe life into the book’s four main characters; Tank is perhaps the most memorable. The best scene in the book is one when Tank bonds with a firefighter; in that moment, when he “leans into the man’s embrace,” he transitions from Bo and Rico’s street-tough mentor to an average dog that needs a home. Still, the narrative could use tightening. There are moments when Bo seems to be the main character of the story and others when he and Rico seem to share the spotlight. The book is divided into two rather disparate storylines: the puppies’ youth with Tank and the adventure with Pearl. Considering the reading level of the text, the narrative would likely be better served if split apart into smaller, more easily digestible chapter books. Furthermore, the book’s theme of friendship as being more important than anything else is contradicted by the importance the narrative places on Tank finding a home and Pearl being reunited with her owner. The reader is led to believe that Bo and Rico’s story will conclude similarly, but it does not.

An entertaining read that may leave young readers confused.