In Hanser’s (The ESL Student’s Grammar HELP! Student Handbook, 2014, etc.) novel, a charismatic canine recovers from an accident and steals his human family’s heart.
This sweet dog tale, narrated by Joey the chocolate Labrador retriever, is based on true events, according to the author. As a young pup, Joey is adopted by a new family—Mom, Dad, and little girl Vivi—and lives a rambunctious, happy life of rascally hole-digging and crazy escapes from the fenced backyard. The author scatters lovely color photographs throughout of the real-life Joey, his family, and even a friendly animal control employee’s truck. One sad day, the energetic dog digs through the fence and gets hit by a car. In addition to his other injuries, his ankle is broken, requiring surgery and a temporary splint. He then starts off on a slow road to recovery with the family. Joey’s first-person narration is upbeat but not always consistent. Sometimes, his speech is cute and simple: “My parents have a lot of rules for me. They have rules for whether I can jump up on the sofa or not.” At other times, though, his language is oddly stilted; for example, after he unsuccessfully tries to convince Dad to let him go for a run, he exclaims: “So many subsequent mornings I arose with hope, only to settle into a sense of failure and disappointment.” Unimaginative daily details regarding the humans’ rituals slow the plot. Some events contain asides with forgettable, uninteresting information, such as the details of Joey’s lineage. The book’s strength, though, is its humorous comparisons of humans’ and dogs’ expectations; Joey, for example, thinks that the sound of a training clicker means that it’s time to play a game involving running away. These witty contrasts will elicit chuckles, particularly from readers with high-maintenance pets. Despite the book’s uneven structure, dog lovers will find that they have a soft spot for Joey’s nonstop energy and fun-loving personality.
An often pleasant slice of a dog’s life.