by Diane Daniels Manning
My rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: January 29, 2014
Genre: Adult/Teen/YA Fiction
Print Length: 342 pages
Available from: Amazon
A YA novel about two unlikely friends, their dogs, and the competitions that bring them and their community together. (Kirkus Reviews)
old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible
wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.
Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster
Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of
America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to
hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once
famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his
mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have
been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.
Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a
therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to
impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog
shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his
mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or
Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to
go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy. . .
Up to 100% of the author’s profits will be donated to charities
serving animals and children. Visit www.dianedanielsmanning.com.
Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning
To be accepted for who they are by those around them for a young, mildly autistic boy and a seventy year-old woman becomes a wonderful tale of discovery and a journey of healing one’s soul in the process in Diane Daniels Manning’s Almost Perfect. Benny is a disturbed young boy from a dysfunctional family. He craves love from his divorced parents, a self-absorbed mother and a father who is disappointed that HIS dreams for Benny will never come true. Add to the mix, a step-mother who is also ill-prepared to deal with Benny’s problems and the boy’s heart-wrenching life becomes the catalyst that puts him in the company of a beaten down old woman who finds little joy left in life as she prepares to close down her dreams and passion raising champion dogs.
This unlikely duo form an unusual bond as Benny is awed by her dogs, even though he claims a poodle isn’t really a dog. Gruff Bess has a chance to live her final dream to go to the world’s most prestigious dog show, but it all hinges on Benny, her old champion dog, McCreery and his last pup, a clone of himself. Bess teaches Benny to care for and show dogs while Benny teaches Bess how her own self-absorption hurt her now grown son, as she paid more attention to her dogs than her child.
Diane Daniels Manning tells her tale with a steady pace, never rushing, always filling each page with heart and gritty detail. Benny and Bess’ story is not a happy romp through life, but a struggle to reach out and connect with others and feel that connection in return. She details each scene with clarity, stressing the relationships of her characters, as opposed to using the dogs as her main focus, although the life she gave to these wonderful animals is that of a trusted friend and understanding ally for those who needed them most.
Heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measures, a book to be enjoyed by all ages, this character-driven plot is brilliantly done.
I received a review copy from Beltor in exchange for my honest review.