Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Review of "Huck" [21]

Huck: The Remarkable True Story of How One Lost Puppy Taught a Family--and a Whole Town--About Hope and Happy Endings by Janet Elder
Broadway, ISBN 978-0767931342
September 28, 2010, 304 pages

What grabs you about a book? Why do you pick this one and not that one?
Well, for me and this book, it was two things. It was that picture on the cover, of perhaps one of the cutest dogs in the world...besides Bandit and Sammy, of course. Just look at that face!
Second were the blurbs, from the likes of the N.Y.Times, David Letterman, Caroline Kennedy and Patricia Cornwell.
So did it live up to these high expectations?

Huck, that adorable toy poodle on the cover, is at the center of this book, but his journey to the Elder family was a long one.
Since he was a small child, the author's son Micheal, wanted a dog. An only child, raised, as his mother admits, being read books about all sorts of charming, cute animals since he was an infant, there is nothing he wants more than a pet to love. He begged, he argued, he made PowerPoint presentations of why it was a good idea. I will tell you, it got rather pitiful really, like when he tries to keep an inchworm as a pet. And just as strongly his parents, Rich and Janet, found reasons why having a dog while living in an apartment in Manhattan, with their schedule, was not a good idea.

Then Janet got sick, breast cancer, and faced months of chemo and radiation and the possibility of not surviving. So, to give their son, now 11, something to look forward to, they promised him a dog when her treatments were finished and they were better able to cope. And get a dog they did, little Huck, from a breeder in Florida.
He is cute, he is smart, he wins all their hearts. They are in love.
Then they go away on vacation, leaving Huck with Janet's sister in NJ, an experienced dog owner. But perhaps of bigger dog who can not squeeze through a gap in the fence.
Huck is lost and they must appeal to the residents of the surburban New Jersey town for their help and I will spoil the surprise and tell you that after several days, Huck is found.

That is the story.
Yes, Huck is adorable and they love him, as most pet owners love their pets. And yes, they are heartbroken when he is lost, as we all would be. And I must tell you that the residents of Ramsey and the few neighboring towns in NJ come across as the nicest, most helpful people you have ever met. We in NJ appreciate that.
The part of the book about her cancer diagnosis is very good, and any of us who have sat in that chair across from a doctor with bad news will know how she felt. Their bonding with a new dog and his antics will resonate with all we pet lovers out there. That first part of the book, with the diagnosis and getting the dog, is very sweet. And I am glad they came across so many nice, helpful people in their times of trouble. I am sure this story is in part a reward for them.

But...almost 2/3 of the book is taken up by the search after Huck escapes.
In minute, painstaking detail.
I am afraid the author lost me there. Certainly, I wanted to find out if he returned safely. Ok, you actually know when you start the book that he did, you know it when you read the title. But, I was not really that concerned about knowing what they had for breakfast one day before going out to search or ever person they talked to on the streets. An editor needed to take The Big Red Pen to this part. A lot.
This would have made a great magazine article, or maybe even a sweet children's book, with illustrations of the oh-so-cute Huck. Yes, that I can see. I might even buy it.
What we got instead is a  pleasant, feel-good story that lost it's way as surely as Huck did,  one that I think even the greatest dog lover out there may tire of before the end.

My thanks to the publisher, through the Amazon Vine program, for providing a review copy of this book.


  1. I admit, that is one cute dog. I just finished an audio about another dog called "Oogy". Like your book, and like most animal books, there is alot more stuff in there than about the dog, but hey, at least Huck and Oogy didn't die right?

  2. My mom read this book and felt pretty much the same way you did.

  3. At least Huck didn't think he was Elvis! It's too bad the author went off on such a tangent the last third of the book.

  4. The second I saw this cover I knew why you had picked this. And two-thirds of the book on a few days search? That does seem excessive.

    And guess what!? I got my invite to Amazon Vine! I'm soooooo excited!

  5. there are too many doggie book out there...and while I love doggies...i think the market is full.

    Jenners, I am sure we are all very happy for you. I was going to make a joke about the bottom of the barrel...but of course I was just kidding. Happy Vining! ;-)

  6. I always fall for a dog cover. :)

  7. well...just look at that face...


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