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When he no longer fits into his vagabond mother's life, thirteen-year-old Harley adopts an abandoned dog and falls in with an outspoken old woman, a cantankerous junk collector, and an energetic and loving teenage girl
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Gr. 6-9. Harley, at 13, has just parted company with his promiscuous mother. May, at sixtysomething, has just been abandoned by her husband of 40 years. A dog, later to be called Ishmael, has just been booted out of a pickup truck. A chance meeting at an Arizona rest stop throws these outcasts together, and they set off in May's car for a house she owns across the mountains. On their arrival they find Bill, May's tenant, who cannot move out because of his broken leg. Also resident are Singer, 16 and temporarily fatherless, and Bill's dog, Coo (get it, Bill and Coo). Harley the mistrustful reckons with Singer the optimist; Bill the junk collector meets his nemesis in May the "queen of clean"; Ish the aggressive circles Coo the tolerant. Only after an angry confrontation, which leads to a critical injury for Ish, can May and Bill and Harley look beyond their personal woes and make the compromises necessary to bond the group into a quirky family. Sebestyen redeems this too tidily balanced cast and too tidily contrived plot with lively dialogue, liberally laced with ironic wit. The keen depiction of Harley's obstinacy and need, and a wonderful dinner conversation in which Singer explains her views on vegetarianism and death, are ample payment for any problem of credulity. Elizabeth BushFrom School Library Journal:
Grade 5-9-An unlikely assortment of outcasts-an adolescent boy abandoned by his mother, a pit bull ditched by its owner, an elderly woman deserted by her husband, and a lonely man-are brought together by a wise, loving teenager who has had her own share of troubles. Poignant and uplifting.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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