It's the story of a boy who has made some bad decisions and a dog who has lived a difficult life. Together the two underdogs learn about trust, friendship and the all-important truth that some things are worth fighting for.
The story begins when JD arrives home from a summer away. Much is made of where exactly JD spent the summer. His version is that he was at his aunt's house. However when pressed, he can't remember his aunt's name. The reader finds out that he really was at a juvenile camp after shoplifting.
Northrop uses first person narrative to bring the protagonist, Jimmer (JD) to life. He has created a tough-guy image, but when he starts to win over the new rescue dog, Johnny Rotten (JR), his soft side emerges. And when JR bites a friend who turns out to be not-such-a-friend, JD really shows his fighting side. He's determined to save JR's life and will stop at nothing to make sure his dog is safe.
There is also a girl who was JD's girlfriend. Will she still like JD when she finds out where he was all summer?
The story is not profound, but it's charming nonetheless. The plot unfolds at just the right pace to keep the reader interested. The characters are well drawn and fairly believable. JD is the typical teenager who thinks of himself first, the dog second and everyone else after. But he's basically a good kid and that shines through.
This would be a good choice for a reluctant reader. Definitely a good choice for dog lovers. The Rottweiler pictured is a heart-stealer.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reading copy provided by the publisher, Scholastic Press, for review purposes.
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