Reviews

FOR THE LOVE OF A DOG

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From Publishers Weekly

Told by her pastor that animals don’t have souls, young Rose (Body Sharers) didn’t believe him and she still doesn’t. This memoir, which recounts her lifelong passion for animals, gathers momentum and gains the reader’s full attention when the adult Rose adopts a Border collie, the runt of a litter. Demanding and ditzy, beautiful and bright, Kierney becomes the love of Rose’s life. The dog understands whole English sentences (according to her besotted owner) and possesses great joie de vivre. But Kierney is not an easy pet: she demands most of Rose’s time and attention, and she bites. The family veterinarian gives her a diagnosis “she’s insane” that mollifies Rose and husband Joe for a while. However, when the next vet diagnoses epilepsy and the dog begins to have frequent grand mal seizures, they realize the severity of Kierney’s problems. Against great odds, the couple works tirelessly to help Kierney lead a normal life. The couple’s obsession with their dog can be disquieting at times, leading one to wonder if they kept Kierney alive too long. Yet seldom has the intensity of a dog-human bond been expressed so clearly. Rose writes, “Getting to know an animal was like traveling to another country, a body unlike mine, habits and wisdom with strange logic, the surprising landscape of another brain, its alien weather systems, a new sky.” Agent, Kimberly Witherspoon. (July)Forecast: Rose’s success in fiction her first novel was a PEN/Hemingway finalist may attract critical attention to this nonfiction effort.Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Against the backdrop of her relationship to a variety of animals, Rose depicts her development from defiant, 12-year-old atheist to mystically inclined Roman Catholic, from meat eater to vegan, and from literature to creative writing in her academic concentration. The heart of the book, though, is the portrayal of her deep commitment to a “behaviorally challenged” dog. Fans of the border collie will find considerable validation of Stanley Coren’s (The Intelligence of Dogs, LJ 3/15/94) ranking of the breed as first in intelligence in this stunning memoir of the author’s beloved Kierney. “She was grasping entire strings of words, even when the sequence and some of the words varied,” Rose writes. Rose’s Body Sharers was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award for Best First Novel, and the writing here is of the same high quality, with scenes of harrowing emotional intensity. Highly recommended for all public libraries; academic libraries at schools that offer creative writing classes, animal behavior studies, and theology departments will also want to consider seriously. Cleo Pappas, Lisle P.L., IL
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Seattle Times writer Ranny Green

“For the Love of a Dog is an absorbing blend of tension and passion, firmly tethered to reality. It’s must reading for anyone who has ever been owned by a dog.” Read more of Green’s review and interview with me  here.

BODY SHARERS

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From Publishers Weekly

Fourteen-year-old Cam’s discovery of her mother’s dead body launches a dark and powerful, if at times unsubtle first novel. Cam’s absentee father sends her to live with a distant step-cousin, Scofield, and his wife Marge. A complex interplay of points of view–Cam’s first-person reminiscences and the third-person narratives of Scofield, Marge, and others–chronicles her childhood, beset by tragedy and abuse. Repeatedly raped at age four by Scofield himself, Cam was initiated into “body sharing” as the nine-year-old victim of a coterie of her teachers; at thirteen she had an abortion. Now, while Cam seeks solace in sex with an older girl named Dana, Scofield again forces her into a physical relationship that finally drives her to the end of her tolerance and to despair. The author explores Cam’s intense, precocious sexuality with a fearless honesty that gives her character a disturbing vividness. Yet the fiercely sensual imagery sometimes comes across as ponderous overwriting or awkward abstraction, as when she describes a woman’s eyeshadow as “a jar on a pasture hill, a curtain sewn across a valley.” In addition, the intrusion of an absurdly gothic element–Scofield is plagued by a phantom dog–mars the admirable verisimilitude achieved in Cam’s personality. For the most part, though, Rose’s ambitious foray into difficult territory makes for a highly affecting debut.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In her first novel, Rose brings out the disturbing transgressions of child molestation and sexual wantonness. She leads us into the world of Camille, a 14-year-old who has been the victim of sexual abuse and child pornography since she was nine years old. After her mother’s death, Camille lives with her uncle and aunt on their police dog farm. We are led into the dissociative fantasies, conflicts, and personal losses of Camille, as well as the visions of terror and guilt of her accursed Uncle Scofield and the emotional and sexual entanglements of his wife, Marge. Though the subject of this highly charged narrative is disconcerting, Rose offers a glimmer of hope in the conclusion. Her vivid details, consistent descriptions, and harrowing insights into character makes this a powerful debut worth our attention. Highly recommended for all collections.
– David A. Berona, Westbrook Coll. Lib., Portland, Me.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A promising but narrow first novel evokes the disturbed atmosphere of a household in which a 14-year-old girl–a survivor of repeated sexual abuse–lives with a relative who’s given to obsessive thoughts of sexual violence. When asked how many children she had, Camille’s mother had always answered, “One, and one’s too many.” The teenager is already emotionally and spiritually motherless, then, when her mother dies and she’s dumped with relatives: Aunt Marge, who’s interested in dog-breeding, not in mothering; and Uncle Scofield, who trains police dogs and is tormented by visions of a ghost-dog- -as well as by desire for Cam: Scofield is also the man who molested her in the bath when she was little. Worse, a flute teacher seduced Cam at age nine, invited other men to use her, photographed her for child pornography, and arranged an abortion when he eventually got her pregnant. Now, as a teenager, she has no firm sense of boundaries–sexual or metaphysical. She is haunted by longing for her mother’s love–as well as by the ghost-children of her mother’s many abortions–and willingly satisfies the sexual desires her presence stirs up in those around her. The sexual material here, though shocking, eventually grows tedious, but there’s a generous scattering of insights: for a suspicious priest, sin is like an architect’s drafting table, not “so much something to forgive as it was something to lean his elbows on while he worked.” Poetic prose often generates the appropriate aura, but–just as everyone’s consciousness here is limited to sexual obsession– the graphic cataloguing of “body sharing” all but obliterates character development. — Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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