WHEN MR. DOG BITES by Brian Conaghan


Age Range: 14 - 18
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Tourette’s syndrome gives a distinctive voice to Conaghan’s first American novel.

When Dylan Mint hears a doctor tell his mother that life as he knows it will be over, he wastes no time drafting a list of things to do before his Tourette’s syndrome, aka Mr. Dog, finishes him off. Savvy readers might guess what’s up, but that won’t keep them from following the catchy beat of Dylan’s smart-talking, cockney-rhyming, rapping voice as he resolves to get his dad home from Iraq, have sex with the unapproachable Michelle Malloy and help his best friend, Amir, find a new buddy. It’s going to be harder than he thought—his Tourette’s is the rare swearing type, exacerbated by stress. Fortunately, Dylan has a good heart and sense of humor. (His sheltered naïveté is also often unintentionally funny; his confrontation with a couple of thugs is simultaneously uncomfortable and hilarious.) Sympathetically rendered, Dylan’s Tourette’s punctuates the rhythms of Scottish slang and teenage banter. Drumhill Special School, where kids don’t bat an eye at the occasional outburst, blurs normalcy: When your peers and teachers are hurling racist epithets at your best friend, is unleashing Mr. Dog really inappropriate behavior? A plot twist occurs so late as to feel arbitrary but is resolved well, if hastily.

An appealingly offbeat look at friendship, sex and what’s really “normal.” (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 10th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61963-346-9
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Bloomsbury
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