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Hu-Dad here. Since our readers are animal lovers, I wanted to take a moment to highlight a new book coming out next week – The Changing Season by Steven Manchester.
Steven reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked that I review his book. In fairness, we receive these requests all of the time and ignore the vast majority of them, but Steven had the wisdom to attach a link to a short story to whet our appetite introducing two of the main characters of the novel. The short story was about Billy Baker, a high school senior, hiking a trail with his long-time dog, Jimmy (yes, the dog’s name is Jimmy). As avid hikers, we appreciated the story, were hooked, and agreed to review the novel.
The novel expands the characters to Billy’s best friends, Mark and Charlie, his sister Sophie, a love interest Vicki, and his boss at Four Paws Animal Shelter, Arlene.
At first, I was quite concerned that the novel was not my type since it is aimed at the Young Adult market. In the opening pages, Billy is graduating from high school with no clue what he wants to do with his life while his friends all seem to know where they are headed. It felt formulaic and the story line obvious.
And Jimmy, his dog, is no Lassie. He is a good dog, a beloved dog, but is mostly used as a device to break the fourth wall so Billy could explain his feelings and thoughts.
And so I labored through the first 30-40 pages. And suddenly, I was not laboring any more. I was intrigued.
The story did not go as planned, the answers were not obvious (and were often not answers at all), and the characters were more flawed – and interesting – than they first appeared. Every time I thought I knew where the novel was headed, a character did something unexpected. And just when I expected the unexpected, a character stayed on course.
And the best compliment I can give to a novel – I couldn’t stop reading. I wanted to know what happened to each character, how he or she solved their challenges, and how they went into the future.
To be clear, this is not a dog novel. Jimmy is a character, but he is not the main character. He is a sounding board – a great sounding board – to Billy. So don’t get the novel if you want to read a dog book.
And there were a couple of moments around dog rescue – a topic we are quite passionate about – that struck us as not quite right.
But the good parts of the story well made up for these flaws. Like I said above, I just could not put the book down because I wanted to know what happened to the characters. If you are interested in a book about complex, good, but flawed characters, I highly recommend it.
Thus our rating of 4 out of 5 stars mirrors the 4.8 stars you will find on the Amazon ratings by advance readers.
Full Disclosure – As noted, we were contacted, provided a free copy of the book, and asked to review it. The links to the books are our Amazon affiliate link, so we do receive a small payment if you purchase the book from that link.
Note that the book is released to the public next Monday, February 22. The links will allow you to pre-order your copy.
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