CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 28 . . .March 25, 2011
Toronto, ON: Dundurn, 2011.
158 pp., pbk, $12.99.
Grades 8-10 / Ages 13-15.
Review by Maggie Standish.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
"I'm not a bad kid," Danny said.
"No, you're not. Don't tell anyone I said this, but in a way your dad should be proud of you. You stood up for your old man, even if it meant doing something wrong."
Danny is 15-years-old in present day Canada. He and his mother, Rosemary, his sister, Susan, and father, Jack, have just moved. Jack's alcoholism is the reason for the move, though the story starts once he begins the fight of being a recovering alcoholic. Danny's father decides to adopt a retired greyhound named Long Shot. Long Shot still wants to race, though. Danny's life becomes better as he learns to express himself both with writing and through the discipline of the sport of judo. His relationship with his father improves through training Long Shot to race again.
The Greyhound is written in the third person point of view, though Danny's using a diary and his discussions with a psychiatrist both allow readers to get inside looks into what he is thinking and feeling. Readers learn more about Jack through various minor characters, including a local priest and his mother, Rosemary. Though the story is mostly linear, there are flashbacks throughout the chapters. The flashbacks are a bit confusing, but they tie in with the main story as it continues.
Though the description, sometimes, can almost take away from the flow of the story, it really makes one "feel" the characters. What I enjoyed about this work is that this is a story about growing up and hero ship, without the necessity of preaching specific life lessons. The story, though seeming to be all over the place sometimes, is rather rich with the addition of Darfur through Danny's friend, Ben, and Danny's personal writings. Though, at first, Ben, and his story about escaping to Canada from Darfur, don't seem to fit into the story, one recognizes it gives Danny the realization that, even with his father's alcoholism, his life isn't so bad. Cooper's attachment to his character and the subjects in this book come across in this work. The author works hard, and succeeds, in writing a story that makes the reader feel sympathy for both father and son, without being told why.
Even with a male protagonist, The Greyhound can be enjoyed by either gender since females also have to deal with the perils of being a teenager.
Maggie Standish, of North Bay, ON, is an MLIS graduate.
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