DIANE DANIELS MANNING
A YA novel about two unlikely friends, their dogs, and the competitions that bring them and their community together. (Kirkus Reviews)
An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.
Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.
Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. . .
Benny lives with his Dad and step-Mom. He is forever trying to get the attention of his birth Mom, who seems to have a million things to do except spend time with Benny. Benny meets his neighbor Bess, who has spent her life breeding and showing Standard poodles. Bess has decided to call it quits with the whole dog thing because she thinks she has gotten too old. Her son David is unable to convince her that she should continue to breed and show dogs. Benny decides that showing Bess’s dog would be the perfect way to get his Mom’s attention and Bess just can’t resist getting involved.
This book has been on my to-be-read shelf for way too long. It kept catching my eye and I finally decided to give it a go.
I like stories where unlikely characters hook up and become friends. Under normal circumstances, Benny and Bess would probably never had gotten to know each other. But both seem to be trying to find their way in life. Their chance meeting and love of dogs allows then to make a connection. Both Benny and Bess have a fun sense of humor with a small bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure.
I’m sure glad I finally decided to read this charming story. It was a simple, well-paced and positive tale.
Thanks to Beltor, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.