LAUGHING DOG by D.C. Burns

LAUGHING DOG

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman, her family and her effervescent dog come together to navigate life and love in this surprising story.

Lauren McKintock was once a strong, lithe, almost 6-foot-tall ballet dancer. She was an imposing physical presence, but was and still is vulnerable and emotionally damaged. So when multiple sclerosis began to ravage her body, the distress of not being able to dance was compounded by simmering, unresolved childhood grief; a downward spiral ensued. Fortunately, Lauren was raised a proud Okie, so she ultimately takes pride in her strength and optimism. She develops for herself a new kind of dancing, one that involves not classical ballet, but the deceptively simple maneuvers of staying upright and walking a straight line—it’s a tremendously difficult task because every muscle in her body works against her. When she’s alone in Denver without the proper medication, remaining positive throughout the struggle is an almost impossible task. But back home in Edmond, Okla.—with her family, fresh air and a farm where outdoor labor becomes its own kind of dance—a better healing process begins. It doesn’t hurt that she’s blessed with sassy, headstrong relatives who aren’t afraid to kick up some dirt and break the law; nor does it hurt that a kind, handsome—and single—surgeon moved in next door during her absence. While this arrangement might seem culled from a shallow romance novel, Burns has a gift for pulling the reader in with the warmth and nobility of her characters. Her prose is full of clarity and resoluteness that mirrors Lauren’s mindset. The degree of autobiographical influence is left unclear, but Burns writes as though, like Lauren, she was once lost and has now found peace. There are certainly shortcomings (like odd Seventh Seal-like philosophical asides in which Lauren converses with God and asks him the “big” questions), but as the story moves on, those lapses are forgiven, and any cynical reservations fall away in the comfort of Lauren’s world.

Take comfort in Burns’ big-hearted philosophy.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 2011
Publisher: CrossTimbers
Program: Kirkus Indie
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