By Julie Redfield Young
Published: December 9, 2013
BLACK is a coming of age novel about a stray Labrador retriever who helps an emotionally crippled teenage boy over-come hysterical blindness by teaching him to love again.
Fifteen-year-old James watches his twin sister Lacie die when her horse is spooked by a rattlesnake during a practice session for an upcoming competition and he blames himself for her death. The
Black is a heart-warming story about the healing power of animals. Black has a way, like all dogs of wiggling his way into your heart and making you smile no matter how sad you feel.
There is a sub-plot in this story as well. His life is also wrapped up in the black lab’s and the twin’s lives by coincidence. Roberto experiences tragedy at a young age and ends up alone and homeless as a youth, living in a hovel he has made himself and trying to get himself through school. Seeing an opportunity to earn some reward money for returning a well-loved pet, he steals a man’s dog in order to return it for the reward.
The characters in this story seem very real. The grief and anger they experience you will feel right along with them as the reader. I thought that the emotional distress that the family went through after the loss of Lacie was well-portrayed. They anger that they felt that lashed out at one another that seemed to come from nowhere was very realistic.
While the storyline was very good, I did have some concerns with the editing and proofreading of the book. I found a large number of grammatical and proofreading errors in the book. Such errors even included changing Roberto’s name to Patrick in one instance. There were also tense changes where the writing went from past tense to present tense. These errors sometimes made it confusing for the reader. There were also scene changes or passing of time that were marked only by a new paragraph. These needed to be marked with a passage break rather than just a new paragraph to more easily understand that something significant had changed.
One last critique I have is related to James’ blindness. I feel it is necessary to mention this as I am an educator in the field of visual impairment. The author wrote “Now that he had acquired a keen sense of hearing,” and assuming this to mean since he became blind, as most people assume that when a person loses their vision they compensate by acquiring improved hearing. In actual fact, the loss of vision does not equate to improved hearing at all. This is actually a myth.
Despite the grammar and proofreading errors, I quite enjoyed the novel Black. I thought it had a unique plot and theme. It’s characters were well-written and I particularly liked that the author portrayed Roberto as a homeless person who was not directionless, but who was motivated, and had a goal in life, but was simply homeless because of circumstances, not because of addictions or poor life choices. I think this reminds us that not all street people are not on the streets because of poor life choices.
I gave Black 3 stars out of 5 for it’s heart-warming and inspiring story-line.
Thank you to the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
Puppies’ tails, pollywogs, and bamboo whistles were as much a part of my childhood as my grandfather’s lap. He was always reading, always writing, and always thinking, but it seemed to me that he liked telling me stories most of all. As I sat on his lap, he’d tell me about the time he grabbed a star with his tongue and shot it through a basketball hoop. I’d giggle and beg for more.
I know I inherited my love of story-telling from my grandfather. It was the magic we shared, just the two of us; we sailed to the polka-dot moon on a whacky rocket ship powered by Pegasus’ wings.
I like to think my novel; “Black” is my way of sharing my grandfather’s world with others. But it’s also an entrance into my heart because I believe no matter how dark the day begins a dog’s wagging tail and eager eyes can always make things feel better.