This book is dedicated with all respect and hope to everyone who has ever faced cancer. ~ Gary Paulsen

Notes from the Dog ... by Gary Paulsen

(although this book is for grades 5 -9, I also recommend it for adults)

"Sometimes having company is not all it's cracked up to be." 
Fifteen-year-old Finn is a loner, living with his dad and his amazing dog, Dylan. This summer he's hoping for a job where he doesn't have to talk to anyone except his pal Matthew. Then Johanna moves in next door. She's ten years older, cool, funny, and she treats Finn as an equal. Dylan loves her, too. Johanna's dealing with breast cancer, and Matthew and Finn learn to care for her, emotionally, and physically. When she hires Finn to create a garden, his gardening ideas backfire comically. But Johanna and the garden help Finn discover his talents for connecting with people.


I picked this book out of the children's section at the school library and after reading it, thought oh dear it doesn't belong there. But the more I thought about it Notes From The Dog by Gary Paulsen is geared towards the AP readers to challenge their comprehension reading skills.

The main character is a fourteen year old boy named Finn and his devoted dog Dylan. Although his household is made up of Dad and Grandpa, he is very shy and sets a few  low goals for his summer vacation. With the new temporary neighbor who moved in next door his whole summer changes. Johanna is a graduate student in her twenties with awesome people skills who just happens to be a  breast cancer survivor trying to live her life to the fullest.

Finn and Johanna make a deal to create a garden in Finn's backyard and through this adventure they become close friends, actually helping each other out emotionally and physically. Johanna is still going through chemo, but her goal is to raise money for the Cancer Foundation, even training for a race. But as summer comes to an end, all plans are laid aside after Johanna's condition changes.

I have to say, even getting to the middle of this story I was tearing up not knowing what was going to happen. I didn't think the dog has that big of a part, but it was an important piece of the story. I highly recommend this book if your child understands more than just an easy, fluffy read.

To every thing there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born,
and a time to die.
A time to plant,
and a time to reap.

A time to weep,
and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn,
and a time to dance.
                        Ecclesiastes 3

                 Amazon Review

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