It would be saccharine to suggest that any good can come of having cancer, or that a warm puppy alone can embody salvation for a traumatized family. But there is an aura of happy innocencea kind of euphoriapervading this book. The people of Ramsey, as depicted here, are earnest and kind. We meet a man who is "madly in love" with his wife; a selfless teenager; one helpful citizen after another. A complete stranger, offering to pitch in with the search for Huck, tells Rich, "It feels like I've known you all my life." Elder shows us humanity in its best light, and we are uplifted.
The New York Times
Elder, a senior editor at the New York Times, shares a touching story of how a missing dog can bring out the best in people. Elder's son Michael longs for a dog and, over the years, his parents offer him poor substitutes, including fish and butterflies. But after Elder is diagnosed with breast cancer, she decides to grant her son's wish. The family becomes besotted with the toy poodle they name Huck, and the little pup with his perfect blend of "sweetness and naughtiness" develops a circle of admirers wherever he goes. While on vacation, the family learns that Huck has run away from the dog-sitter's New Jersey home. What follows is a town-wide effort by complete strangers, teenagers, storeowners, and multitudes more that confirms the basic goodness in people and prompts a very happy ending. Elder is a gifted writer whose story is sure to tug on heartstrings and leave readers with a renewed belief in the kindness of strangers. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"There is an aura of happy innocencea kind of euphoria pervading this book....Elder shows us humanity in its best light and we are uplifted."
—The New York Times
“It’s about hope, it’s about fear, it’s about triumph … I guarantee you, you’ll feel better about everything after you read this.” – David Letterman
"This story takes place in the most familiar places – a doctor’s office, a family’s kitchen, a suburban high school, and the woods out back. It’s a modern-day myth that happened to be true. It’s a story in which wonderful things occurred because people believed in themselves and in each other. It’s a story about the power of love to change our world."
"A story of how healing the love of a pet can be and of faith that good things can still happen when people pull together – a true, feel-good read"
—Patricia Cornwell, author of the Scarpetta series and dog lover
"Huck is the Dewey of the canine world. The dog is a delight even my cat Norton would have been charmed (after a hiss or two) and the book itself is lovely and inspiring. I rate it 5 barks."
—Peter Gethers, author of The Cat Who Went to Paris and The Cat Who'll Live Forever
"Janet Elder's wonderful story of Huck reminds us that the best stories about dogs are really about people or, in this case, community. Few things in America these days can bring people together more than a shared love of dogs. Dogs enter our lives for all kinds of reasons, and Huck entered Janet Elder's life for one of the most important. This is a wonderful story, gripping and heartwarming. And I can't say I've ever read a dog story with a more meaningful or uplifting ending. You are likely to cry some happy tears."
—Jon Katz, author of Soul of a Dog: Reflections on the Spirits of the Animals of Bedlam Farm
"This dog story made me feel good about people, families, and New Jersey."
—Roy Blount Jr.
"Puppies have always been better than people. Now comes a book where a puppy makes people better people. Pet it, feed it, even read it. You'll love it-and become a better person."
—Dan Jenkins, sportswriter/novelist
In this simple story, Elder's (senior editor, New York Times) only child longs for a dog for years, but his busy New York City parents constantly refuse. Eventually, Elder and her husband relent when she is diagnosed with cancer and has to undergo chemotherapy, hoping that a dog will give the boy something positive to look forward to. Huck, a toy poodle, eventually joins the family and immediately becomes a much-beloved member. After Elder's recovery, the family takes a celebratory vacation, leaving Huck with trusted relatives, but the dog gets loose and wanders for days in the unfamiliar suburbs. Fearing the worst, the family manages to marshal the entire Ramsey, NJ, community to help find him. Thanks to the efforts of neighbors and strangers, Huck is found. VERDICT Despite the spoiler in the title, this story is told with page-turning, heart-stopping intensity and heart-wrenching emotion. It is likely to restore one's faith in the goodness of humanity. Most lost-dog stories are fictional; this is real. Dog lovers and other patrons looking for a heartwarming memoir will be most satisfied.—Florence Scarinci, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY
A city family discovers the kindness of country strangers in its search for a lost puppy.
Since the subtitle ofNew York Timessenior editor Elder's pet memoir alludes to happy endings, it's hardly giving the plot away to say that her prodigal subject—a small, red-haired toy poodle—was eventually brought back to the fold. Much of the book chronicles the logistical and emotional struggles of the four-day search-and-rescue operation that Elder, her husband and her son initiated in and around Ramsey, N.J., immediately following Huck's untimely escape from Elder's sister's home. During that trying extended weekend, these Manhattanites experienced the warmth of countless Bergen County residents as many joined them in bracing against the chill of March to seek out the lost Huck. "We learned a lot about the heart of a small town and the extraordinary level of concern one stranger can show another," writes the author. "We learned a lot about ourselves, too, about tenacity and grit and our devotion to one another." It's fairly standardDewey-type fare, but what makes her account peculiar is the framing. Elder acknowledges that "Huckis a part of the chapter of my life titled cancer," but she prefaces the minutely detailed search and reunion with young Huck with a jarringly vague gloss of her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer just prior to Huck's arrival in her home. Peppered with tedious encyclopedic descriptions of numerous would-be rescuers, this journalistic tale somehow overlooks salient details of her treatment and reckoning with a life-threatening illness. Such sanitization makes the memoir most appropriate for a YA audience.
Overly sentimental, this feel-good story may leave adult readers wanting.