Walking the Dog, by Linda Benson captured my attention this morning and kept me reading until I finished the last page. I finished it in one sitting, which is no easy feat when you have a three year old wanting crazy things, like breakfast.
Walking the Dog is intended for a middle grade audience, though I think the story could be enjoyed by a much older audience. Jared Westen is an average sixth grade boy who struggles in math and is really annoyed by his little brother (I was with him there). Everything is going great for him until he notices Sophie Best.
She’s beautiful, even with the scar on her face, but his parents don’t want him to hang around her because she has a troubled past. Jared finds a way around this by volunteering to walk dogs with her at the animal shelter.
I enjoyed the book, and I was really surprised at how riled up I got reading it. I hated his parents. Hated them. His mom expects Jared to watch his little brother all the time, and at one point in the book says something about how it’s his responsibility not to let anything happen to him. You know whose responsibility it is to make sure nothing happens to a child? The parents. Period. When his little brother goes missing later in the book, I was kind of hoping Jared would say something to his mother like “you lost track of him? But he’s your son. He’s your responsibility, how could you have let this happen.” Which if you’re wondering is verbatim what his mother said to him at a point in the book. Their stance regarding Sophie was ridiculously selfish and unfair. And had their actions been presented in a favorable light, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this book. But they weren’t, so they put me strongly in Jared’s camp.
I think this was a great read, and Linda Benson is definitely an author to keep an eye out for. I think her name is going to get pretty well known if she keeps releasing books like Walking the Dog, The Girl Who Remembered Horses, and Six Degrees of Lost.