Plourde, Lynn. Maxi's Secrets
August 23rd 2016 by Nancy Paulsen Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
When Timiny's father gets a job in a rural community, they move away from a bigger city and get settled in Maine. As a consolation, his parents get him a dog-- a Bernese mountain dog that is all white. At first, Timiny isn't wild about Maxi, but soon comes to love her. Timiny is extremely small for his age (we aren't told exactly why), and is frequently pushed into lockers and bullied, even though his father is the assistant principal. The worst person at this seems to be Rory, a next door neighbor who has family problems, but even he has some good moments. Timiny's best new friend is Abby, who is blind and African-American, adopted by a white family. There is also a girl at the school who uses crutches for a degenerative nerve disease. Maxi turns out to be deaf, a problem that often manifests itself with all white dogs. Maxi manages to get involved in some scrapes, and because Abby gets along so well with Maxi, Timiny investigates how she could get a guide dog even though she is under 18. The internet is a wonderful thing-- it also turns up a pager collar for deaf dogs. We are warned at the very beginning of the book that Maxi dies, but it's still sad, since the cause is bone cancer when Maxi is barely a year old.
Strengths: I liked the frank way that differences were addressed in this book. Abby is very forthcoming about her blindness and doesn't want special treatment at school. The portrayal of her aide was interesting as well.
Weaknesses: I wish that we knew what Timiny's problem was. Also was not fond of his name. Maxi's "life lessons" at the end of each chapter were a bit much.
What I really think: This could have been done in such a way that it was effective but not as sad. There's no reason for Maxi to die. It adds nothing to the story. Will probably buy anyway.