Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review: Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning

Almost Perfect
by Diane Daniels Manning
Publisher: Beltor
Published: Nov. 14, 2014

Amazon Synopsis:

Two unlikely friends, an old woman and a boy with special needs, take an aging champion standard poodle to the Westminster Dog Show and heal their troubled families. 

Seventy year-old Bess Rutledge has fantasized about winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life, but now she has decided she is too old to follow her dream. She meets Benny, a lonely fourteen year-old with mild autism and ADHD, who has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. He becomes convinced that winning Westminster with McCreery, Bess’ aging champion standard poodle, will finally make his mother proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy.

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 My Thoughts:

Benny wants a real dog. Not a poodle like the strange old lady next door raised at the now-closed Umpawaug Kennels. Not that it matters though because his dad and Sonya won't let him have any kind of dog anyway.

When Benny's mom doesn't pick him up again for their allotted time, Benny heads for home, but hears someone or something crying. Upon investigtation,he finds the strange old lady from next door in a shed (on her property) with a poodle waiting to have puppies. The old lady turns out to be Elizabeth Rutledge, otherwise known as Bess. Bess and Benny end up in a partnership training one of the puppies, which looks just like his father McCreery. The dog is kept at Bess's so Benny's dad is not upset. David, Bess's son also helps Benny prepare Breaker for the dog shows. Benny's goal is to make his mother proud of him and love him more.

Almost Perfect is a novel about the complexities of relationships. This novel does a good job of looking at the past relationship of David and Bess's and Benny and his parents. It also explores the relationship between a dog and his boy.

This book held my attention from beginning to end. At no time did it lose my interest. I liked watching the development of the characters. It was interesting to learn about dog shows as well and how they work. The twists in the plot added to the suspense aspect too.

I thoroughly enjoyed Almost Perfect. I loved its reminder that we don't need to be perfect for someone to love us. This book is suitable for all ages teen and up. I rated it 5 stars out of 5. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to the publisher via NetGalley for providing this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Diane Daniels Manning is the co-founder and director of The New School in the Heights, a therapeutic school in Houston, Texas which helps children dealing with social-emotional challenges find success in school and life. She has a Ph.D. in Education and a post-doctoral M.P.H from Harvard and is a practicing child psychoanalyst certified by the American Psychoanalytic Association. Formerly, she was the Director of the Reading and Learning Disabilities Clinic at Tufts University, Lecturer and Research Associate in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, and Chair of the Department of Education at Tulane University. She learned the inner workings of dog show kennels by writing an authorized oral history of a lifetime President of the Poodle of Club of America. Her writing awards include the Faulkner-Wisdom Novella Prize and the Women in Film and Television Short Script Competition.

When not at The New School, Diane and her writing partners, a Standard Poodle named Misty and a rescue cat named Elvira, convene at the keyboard to share great thoughts and plan the dinner menu.
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