Thursday, February 10, 2011

Paisley's Pick - The Leanin' Dog

The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum
HarperCollins, 2008
grades 4-6

Eleven-year-old Dessa Dean lives with her father in a remote mountain cabin. Reeling from the death of her mother, she suffers from nightmares and "daymares" and is unable to leave the security of their cabin. She fears she may be going daft. When a dog appears one day, Dessa Dean quickly welcomes it into her life. Her father is more hesitant - they are running low on food, even without having to feed a dog. The dog is also claustrophobic, and while she panics when in the cabin with the door closed, she also doesn't want to sleep outside alone. Despite these issues, this dog turns out to be just what Dessa Dean needs to finally heal.

I first read this several years ago when I picked up an advance reader copy at TLA (after being assured the dog didn't die). I fell head over heels in love with it. I wrote in my first Paisley post that our experiences influence our reading, and one of the things I loved most about this book is that the dog is a full-fledged character whose growth mirrors that of the Dessa Dean's. And it's so realistic, and I say that from experience, because when I first got my dog, she was so scared and so skittish and wouldn't leave the yard to go on walks. She has come a long way since then! Having seen her confidence grow, I could really relate to the Leanin' Dog's growth. That being said, this book is about more than just a dog, and you don't have to be a dog owner to appreciate it.

With my more recent reading, I was struck by the writing of this book - you feel the cold and the weight that Dessa Dean is carrying around with her, the panic she feels when she tries to leave the cabin. This is a story of friendship, of the bond between pet and person, and of healing. I highly recommend it!

Reviewed from library copy

1 comment:

  1. Paisley,
    I put this book on my list to look for at the library. I know I will like it. Thanks for recommending it.