Sunday, September 29, 2019

Harvey Comes Home

Nelson, Colleen. Harvey Comes Home
September 19th 2019 by Pajama Press
E ARC from Netgalley

Harvey is a Westie whose owner, Maggie and her family go on vacation. The young woman watching him doesn't check that the gate is locked, and Harvey takes off after a squirrel, getting further and further from home. We also meet Austin, who volunteers at Bayside, a retirement facility where his grandfather works. He cleans, helps his grandfather, and visits with the elderly residents. One resident, Mr. Pickering, is very grumpy. When Harvey shows up at Bayside, Austin takes him in and volunteers to keep him until his owners show up. Of course, he lies to his grandfather, saying that the shelter is full and that he is supposed to keep the dog until the owners show up. Mr. Pickering takes a liking to the dog, since he reminds him of General, the dog he had growing up. As Austin and Harvey visit more and more, Mr. Pickering tells of his hardscrabble childhood during the Great Depression, and about his friend, Bertie, whose living circumstances were even more dire. When Maggie gets back from vacation, she searches for Harvey and puts up more signs, one of which Austin finds. Austin knows he must give up the dog, but feels a need to hear more of Mr. Pickering's story.
Strengths: This is an interesting story of the Great Depression, and a good description of how dire the situation was. Bertie's story reminded me of Irene Hunt's 1970 No Promises in the Wind, in that children were viewed as sort of dispensable. If parents couldn't feed them, the children could just fend for themselves! The involvement of the dog is a nice touch, and Bayside is an interesting place. I was glad that Maggie eventually got Harvey back, and that she understood that Austin would miss him, too.
Weaknesses: There are several rather graphic scenes; General gets his foot caught in a trap and has to have it taken off, General is attacked by wild dogs and dies, Bertie's father is found dead in the cabin, and Mr. Pickering dies.
What I really think: This starts with a chapter from Harvey's perspective, and the cover makes this look like a happy book. Most of it is, but because my readers who are apt to pick up dog books like this one tend to be a little less mature, I might have to pass on this one because of the graphic scenes. That's just my library, though. I'm sure there are plenty of readers who will enjoy the history part of this story and won't be traumatized by the troublesome parts.
Ms. Yingling

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