Notes From the Dog, mostly

19Oct10

Busy weekend; I attended a CPI retreat. We had Ken Eisold in as a consultant. Dr. Eisold is a psychoanalyst, organizational consultant and author of  What You Don’t Know You Know: Our Hidden Motives in Life, Business, and Everything Else. His blog, What You Don’t Know You Know, is well worth reading.

I did just read Gary Paulsen’s new book (2009), Notes From The Dog, recommended by John Hutton at the Blue Manatee, and it was well worth reading. It’s different from Hatchet and Dogsong, which are the only other books I’ve read by Paulsen, who’s an incredibly prolific author.

Notes From The Dog is a middle grade book about Finn, a shy, almost Asperger-ish 15-year-old whose summer plans include reading a lot and finding a summer job that will let him avoid people—he makes a list of the people he has to see. His new next door neighbor throws a kink into his plans, though. She’s a pretty graduate student, and she’s bald. She’s getting chemotherapy for breast cancer. She also seems as irresistible as a force of nature, and before Finn knows what’s hit him he’s planting a garden for her. Soon, he and his friend Matthew are talking to people they never met raising money for breast cancer research, and Finn is going out with the most beautiful girl in school (in spite of an almost-tragic accident involving instant tanning cream and bright orange skin).

This is a lighter read than Hatchet or Dogsong, and, though the subject matter is serious—mending broken families and dealing with fatal cancer—there is a romantic quality to the book: romantic in the love-conquers-almost-all sense. There is also a pervasive sense of growth and healing to this book. It is a flawed book, and there’s a major scene that seems to come out of nowhere (involving a mystically healing group skinny-dip), but over all it’s a good book and worth reading and recommending to 12-15 year-olds.

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