Girl with a White Dog ISBN: 9781846471810
Published by Catnip Publishing Ltd, 2014
Coincidences are wonderful and can be quite life-affirming, as is the remarkable one at the end of this super novel. Jessie, in year 9 at school, has a cousin Fran with whom she has been close. However, at the beginning of the story, Fran has become distanced from Jessie as she wants to be part of the 'cool crowd' at school. Kate, Jessie's best friend and a feisty wheelchair user, also goes to the same school, and she is very good at standing up for what is right. The story revolves around Jessie's Gran, who is showing signs of dementia, one of which is that she has suddenly adopted a white German Shepherd puppy. Jessie loves her gran dearly and is very worried about her 'forgetting' how to drive and beginning to say things that don't make sense, but she is delighted with the puppy, Snowy, and when gran has to go into hospital for tests, she looks after the dog. There are family secrets that Jessie has never heard about, and as time goes on, theses secrets begin to become clearer. They are wrapped up in her grandmother's childhood and somehow also in the work that Jessie's history class at school has been doing on the Second World War and the Holocaust. Gran is a completely believable character, as is Kate. Kate is the one who helps Jessie see that her cousin Fran has become part of a group that bullies those less fortunate and that bullying can turn into the terrible things that happened in Germany under Hitler. There are wheels within wheels in this tightly-written, really quite remarkable first novel, and the girls (all three) learn lessons in more ways than one. There is also a delicately handled love affair which will add to the interest of the book for young people. Read and enjoy and learn.