Isn't that one of the most adorable faces you've ever seen? It was that face that originally attracted me to Janet Elder's book, Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family - and a Whole Town - About Hope and Happy Endings. To be honest, the town actually understood hope. It was Janet Elder, after a bout with cancer, who had to learn to hope again.
Janet Elder and her husband were in their late thirties when their only son, Michael, was born. From the time he was a baby, Michael loved dogs, and for years, he asked for one for Christmas, to no avail. Janet and Rick always had an excuse. They lived in an apartmetn in Manhattan. She worked for the New York Times; Rich travelled a lot. With two full-time working parents, the answer to Michael was always no. But, when Janet was diagnosed with breast cancer at 48, Michael was only eleven. Once she learned it was going to be a lengthy treatment, she convinced her husband that they needed to get Michael a dog, one to hug and be there for him. It would be symbol of hope to hold out for him once her treatment was done. And, she even said, "It was going to be good for all of us to have a puppy, a new life at the center of our lives, a declaration of faith in the future."
For Michael, it was love at first site when a reddish brown toy poodle puppy arrived. He called him Huck, and the two were just meant for each other. And, when the family left for a much-needed trip to Florida, it was difficult to leave Huck with Janet's sister in Ramsey, New Jersey. Perhaps Janet had a premonition. "I started wondering if it was a mistake to leave Huck in a place so unfamiliar to him." BIG mistake. Within twenty-four hours, Huck was gone, and the family had to rush back to try to find him. How do you find a puppy that has run away?
It might take a village to raise a child, but it took four towns, and a number of people to find a runaway. Two thirds of the book is about those people who helped in the search. Rich led the search, never giving up in the attempt to find Huck. And, Elder chronicles the prayers, posters, and people who assisted in the search for Huck.
Huck is the story of a dog, and community. However, as a book, it is padded. It's not easy to put together three hundred pages about a puppy, and a search for it. Elder, naturally, has to include the events that led up to it, beginning with Michael's passion for dogs, and culminating in her cancer. But, details about New Jersey and Tampa could have been edited. We really didn't need to know all the details about Tampa, and shopping there. However, I have to admit, without padding there really isn't much of a story here. Bought a dog, loved a dog, lost if for a few days, hunted for it, and brought it home. I'm glad Huck was found. He is an adorable dog. And, I know Elder's story is how the community helped them find Huck. But, I think I wasted a little too much time reading a three hundred page book in which one drama happens, and we know the outcome from the cover of the book.
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
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My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.