I’m sorry I’ve written about nothing but books so far this week. I’ve been working on another post for some time now but just haven’t had the time and mindset to pull it together this week. I guess book reviews are easier posts, in a way, because I am dealing with definite subject matter, and while I’m sharing my thoughts, it’s different from wrestling through a subject and the Biblical implications and coming to a conclusion. And I just happened to finish several books lately. 🙂
I’m not normally drawn to animal stories. They’re often designed to be heartwarming – and my heart needs warming as much as anyone else’s – but I find myself perversely resistant to stories that I know upfront are going for that effect. Or they’re sad, sometimes while simultaneously being heartwarming. One son shared a quote with me something to the effect that getting a dog is an investment in a small tragedy. Because they live a much shorter time than humans, generally, we’re going to have to deal with their deaths.
So I don’t think I would normally have picked up the novella Waiting for Peter except that I really like Elizabeth Musser. This is a short book: only 90 pages. And it’s heartwarming and sad. But it’s good.
The story is about a boy named Peter who was in an accident that took the life of his friend and left Peter with severe injuries. He survives with nothing worse than a limp physically, but his confidence is shattered. His whole world has been shaken up and nothing is the same. His parents decide to let him choose a dog to try to help him, and Peter finds one who seems a little sickly and neurotic, but responds to him.
Dog and boy grow up together. They have adventures and Peter learns to extend himself (talking to strangers when not naturally prone to, etc.). Mom has to deal with the messes, chewed up household items, etc., but likes how dog and boy are both developing. When she deals with her own midlife issues – physical changes, aloof daughter, emptying nest – the dog becomes her companion, too.
The back of the book says, in addition to the book being about “the healing power of love between a boy and his dog,” it is also an “allegory of how we should view our relationship with God, our Master.” Those parts were a little more…not didactic, exactly, but more direct, more like one would see in a devotional than in fiction. That’s not characteristic of Musser, but maybe because the book was so short, there wasn’t space to develop it like one would in a novel. Or maybe she meant it exactly like she wrote in order to make the points she made. I’m not criticizing it or saying it’s bad – it’s just different from how she usually writes.
The story is told alternately from the points of view of the mom, Lanie, and the dog…the latter of which could be a little tricky, but it was kind of fun reading Sunny’s “thoughts.”
There is not a forward or afterward, so I don’t know if the story is based on one from the author’s life (although on her author’s page she does mention having a neurotic dog).
Overall, though not my usual cup of tea, I enjoyed it.
(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)