Saturday, June 20, 2009

Best Friends

It goes without saying that when an author reads a nice review of her book, she’s usually giddy, happy, and thrilled for days. Perhaps weeks, maybe even months. But when the review comes from a very, very special organization, one that the author holds close to her heart, the experience is beyond wonderful. Especially when the review is a surprise.

Picks for Young
By Sally Rosenthal
Dog Gone by Cynthia Chapman Willis. Feiwel and Friends, 2008
Taken on appearance alone, books, like most things in life,
can be deceiving. Such is the case with
Dog Gone by first-time novelist
Cynthia Chapman Willis. When
I picked this young adult novel
from a stack of possible review
candidates, I expected to while
away a few hours reading a tale
of canine loss, but discovered
a rich, complex story of grief
and ultimate renewal.
The book opens with pre-
teen Dill, frozen with sadness
over the recent death of her mother, struggling to cope
with housekeeping demands,an ailing grandfather and a
distant father who is equally drawn inward and mourning.
As if that were not enough, there is mounting concern in
her rural Virginia community that a pack of dogs has been
killing local farmers’ livestock and that Dill’s beloved rescued husky
mix, who is prone to roaming, might be involved.
Without giving away too much of the plot, I can say that Dog
Gone is one of the best animal-themed young adult novels I have
come across in years. With believable, finely drawn characters, local
color and a story deftly balancing empathy and tension, this first
novel reads like the work of a well-established author. Exploring
the often-harsh reality of what can occur when canine pack instinct
meets economic reality, Dog Gone also celebrates the devotion
between people and dogs and the myriad ways that devotion can
lead to healing.

This lovely review appeared in the May/June issue of Best Friends magazine, the publication of the Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the day when there will be “No More Homeless Pets.” Best Friends is one of my favorite (if not my favorite) animal help organizations. So, imagine my excitement when I discovered this DOG GONE review. I just kept muttering Wow! and How cool is this? And then I’d blink, shake my head, and try to refocus to be sure I really was reading a review of my book.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge mush when it comes to animals. Love them. All of them. Some more than others, of course, but never mind that. The point is, Best Friends touches my heart. It’s hard not to visit their website or read their wonderful magazine without melting, putting my hands to my chest, and wanting to adopt just about ever critter that needs a home. You’ll probably understand if you check out this organization at If you don’t know of Best Friends, let me introduce you. I think you’ll be glad that I did.



  1. Cindy, this is HUGE! Best Friends is SUCH a great organization--a fantastic review like this is like winning the Golden Globe or Oscar of animal-rights appreciation. Terrific news!

  2. Thanks, Ame!!! I am pretty thrilled as I love, love, love Best Friends. You're so right--they are an amazing organization.