Today I have a story of rescue and redemption: sure the dog is a major player in this story, but the change in the people, the moments of heart and honest emotion and the clever twists make Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger a story perfect for teens or adults.
I spent years in New Hampshire, although not the decidedly removed and rural area in which this story is set. What comes through instantly in this story is the ‘remove’ of the residents: those who are feeling trapped and without options in a state that has its fair share of rural communities, loosely banded together by benefit of proximity.
Whippoorwill is a term used to describe those residents who collect old cars, furniture, sheds, etc., in their yards, front and back. While most consider these items junk, Clair is dismayed to see a mixed breed dog left in the neighbor’s yard, chained to a tree, living among the mess. She doesn’t believe that the dog is disposable, and makes it her job to save Wally.
Clair is infected with that low-level hopelessness that is invasive when options are so limited as to be undreamable. Far from making her a depressing or dislikable character, you have to admire her willingness to try and change her outlook by taking on the sad-eyed Wally, getting far more back than she expected. Aside from unconditional doggie love, Clair also found Danny, another casualty of the hopelessness and throw-away attitude of his family. From abuser to someone she has come to care for, with a few quirks, the relationship between Clair and Danny, and the growth we see in both is presented with care and honesty, a gradual gowth from acquaintance to friends to a dance with something more. Twists, turns and an ending that was unexpected yet wholly appropriate for the story as it unfolded, this story is hard to put down.
Monninger’s characterization of Clair, Danny and even Wally show a keen eye for honesty and careful storytelling, developing them with faults and flaws, giving them elements that show potential and allowing them to grow. Vivid descriptions bring moments into focus, and you can’t help but revel in the joyful moments with Wally as he gains in confidence from the love, kindness and training that Clair so carefully provides. Moments from laughs to tears keep readers engaged and feeling the story s it progresses, leaving us with a moment that couldn’t be any other way.
Author: Joseph Monninger
Genre: Teen Reads, Friendship
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published on: September 1st 2015
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
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Sixteen-year-old Clair Taylor’s neighbors are what locals call whippoorwills, the kind of people who fill their yards with rusted car parts and old broken furniture. Clair tries to ignore the ugly junk, choosing instead to dream of a future beyond her rural New Hampshire town. But when a black dog named Wally is chained up to a pole in the yard next door, Clair can’t look the other way. Because Wally isn’t just another piece of trash.
Clair takes it upon herself to save Wally, and the immediate connection she has with the lovable dog catches her off-guard. Even more surprising is her developing relationship with eighteen-year-old Danny Stewart, a boy trying to escape the violent storm cloud that hangs over his family.
Over the course of one fateful spring in rural New Hampshire, two teenagers will ask: Doesn’t everyone—and every dog—deserve a chance at happiness?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.