Sixteen-year-old Jimmer “JD” Dobbs returns from a summer “upstate” and struggles to get his bearings at home and stay out of trouble.
But trouble finds JD. His mother has adopted a seriously mistreated rescue dog, figuring JD and the dog “could both get new starts.” But JD knows that “clean starts are a frickin’ myth,” that the past has a way of following them. JD names the Rottweiler Johnny Rotten, after the lead singer of the Sex Pistols. He’s JR for short, with a head the size of a cinder block and the amazing ability to leap through the air like the sharks he saw on Air Jaws, snatching biscuits and partially devouring them before landing. However, JR bites Jimmer’s friend Mars, and Mars’ mother decides to sue, putting at risk the Dobbs’ house and the life of the dog. Readers may well wonder why no information about JD’s clearly euphemistic summer “upstate” is forthcoming, but the novel is cleverly orchestrated, and his secret is eventually revealed as he looks for a way to save the dog he has come to love. JD’s voice rings true, as does his occasional bonehead decision-making and his tentative steps toward empathy.
A fine portrayal of a boy, a dog and the ties of friends. (Fiction. 12-16)