January was a month of recuperating and getting caught up from being pretty sick with pneumonia, so I didn’t get any blogging done. We’ll just think of February as starting our 2013 here at Almost Perfect Pets. And with it being the start of the year, I’d like to start on a pawsitive note — a pawsitively “thrilling” one!
Though it doesn’t have directly to do with disabled pets, it does have a lot to do with pets helping disabled or challenged humans. The “it” I’m talking about is a new novel I just finished reading: Lost and Found — the fiction debut of multiple award-winning author Amy Shojai. You gotta read this book!
Now, you may be familiar with Amy from earlier posts here at Almost Perfect Pets. She gave us a fantastic blurb for Almost Perfect when it came out, and we’re ever so grateful. But honestly, we always feel the need to keep our integrity and tell the truth…and happily, we can do just that when we heartily recommend Amy’s first foray into fiction!
I interviewed Amy late last year in a multi-segment post on my author website about this new direction for her writing career, and I hope you enjoy those posts. But I really want to recommend this book from a personal perspective. As someone who shares her life with four special needs cats and will likely do so for the rest of her life (eventually I really want to add at least one dog to the mix — I miss the puppers!), I am always interested in how therapy and service animals can “rescue” humans just as happens when almost perfect pets do the same.
Amy’s new thriller revolves around a service dog named Shadow, his complex relationship with Steven — the autistic boy he helps — and the story’s protagonist, September Day. I hate spoilers myself so I’m not going to divulge any here, but suffice to say that Amy writes a believable narrative that gives us Shadow’s point of view as the story’s plot unfolds. This is done in a judicious way, not over-the-top as some fiction does with animal narrators. Shadow doesn’t narrate, he just thinks and we get to hear what those thoughts are. It’s just this side of the plot device of the “unreliable narrator,” only Shadow isn’t unreliable — he’s just guileless, which is what we so love about dogs. And yet the power of the foreshadowing it creates is truly amazing, and quite refreshing.
One of the best things for me about this book was that not only was I entertained for hours on end, I was also educated! That’s such a big bonus for me when reading fiction, and Lost and Found was just full of new facts for me. Amy’s Texas background brought the landscape, the atmosphere and its singularly changeable weather alive on the page. And her clear expertise in all things dog and cat had me both fascinated (clicker training; dogs’ thought processes and strong, unshakable motivations; cats’ memory of training through play) and amused (antics of both I fondly recognize).
She reveals in the aforementioned interview some of the research she did to get it right when writing accurately about autism, the syndrome that affects the young boy in the story. I think you’ll find what she has to say about how she reveals the boy’s inner life through her descriptions of Shadow’s thoughts and behavior. But nothing’s as good as reading the story, honest. Just take one bit of advice from me: If you value your sleep, don’t start reading this book at 9:00 PM on a week night!
Still not convinced? I think you will be after you check out the book trailer on Amy’s blog, “Bling, Bitches and Blood.“