Sunday, October 18, 2020

Storm Dog

Elliott, L.M. Storm Dog
August 18th 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ariel has a difficult home life in her Blue Ridge Mountain home in Virginia. It's not because of economics; her father is older, educated, and well-to-do. However, her mother, a former Apple Blossom Parade princess, does not appreciate Ariel's keen mind and love of music. Instead, she focuses on the fact that Ariel is not conventionally pretty like her sister, Gloria. As preparations for the parade ramp up, Ariel also has to deal with the fact that her older half brother George is deployed in Afghanistan. She misses him and his support, and worries about his fate. When she is wandering in the woods one day, Ariel gets caught in a storm and saved by a dog, who takes her to a cabin. There, the two meet a vet who also served in Afghanistan, Sergeant Josie. Ariel knows her mother won't allow her to have a dog, so asks for Josie's help, since she was a canine handler. The dog, named Duke, is a big help to Ariel, and she decides to train the dog to dance. This escalates into a caper with Gloria's former boyfriend, Marcus, that involves breaking dogs out of a local shelter, hiding them, and dressing them up in Gloria's clothing to be on an unregistered parade float. Will Ariel be able to make peace with her family?
Strengths: This was such a vivid description of spring in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains that I could smell those apple blossoms. Very atmospheric! Ariel's family dynamics are interesting, and her friendship with Sergeant Josie is touching. I especially appreciated the unfortunate but illuminative scene where Josie is targeted by people who want her to "go back to her country"; she's from Puerto Rico. Teaching Duke to dance was fun, which nicely balances out her well warranted anxiety about George. I was also glad to see that the father was described as older when his involvement in Vietnam protests was mentioned.
Weaknesses: Ariel was not a very pleasant character, and while it was fun to watch her get into highjinks with Marcus, I worried about the dogs. The mother's behavior was inexcusable, although the sister comes around a bit.
What I really think: I loved this author's Annie Between the States, Hamilton and Peggy, Suspect Red, and especially Under a War-Torn Sky (2001), which I helped a student buy years ago because he loved it so much. This is similar to Sorosiak's I, Cosmo, so I may pass on purchase, due to Ariel's poor choices and the unusually large number of outdated songs and books mentioned in this, but definitely take a look at this to fill a need for stories involving dogs or outspoken girls.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful cover that will draw readers. I was hoping you'd like this one. It sounds like a good read, but I find it interesting that Ariel isn't a "pleasant" character. Have been looking for a good dog book. May take a peak at the library. Enjoyed "I, Cosmos."