Award-winning writer Melvin Burgess explores the rocky landscape of adolescence in Lady: My Life as a Bitch, a frank, offbeat, and often shocking tale of a teenager who gets turned into a dog.
Seventeen-year-old Sandra Francy is raging with hormones, self-righteous indignation, and teenage angst when her life is turned upside down by a bizarre incident. A drunken, homeless man she stumbles across turns her into a bitch -- not the smart-mouthed, horny, teenage kind of bitch she's been for some time now, but the four-legged, furry, canine kind. This transition leaves Sandra in shock at first, mourning the loss of her human lifestyle, her family, and her friends. But after befriending a couple of other humans who have also been turned into dogs, she soon lets go of the human world and revels in the wondrous new sights, sounds, and smells -- oh, those smells! -- of a dog's life.
After spending several weeks hanging in her canine existence, craving the taste of rabbit and cat and enjoying such sensual activities as sniffing, licking, and having sex whenever she pleases, Sandra's dog's-eye-view of her human life subtly reshapes her values. So when a chance encounter with her family causes the dregs of her humanity to surface once again, she finds herself questioning many of her previous behaviors and beliefs. She also finds herself facing a difficult decision. Should she return to her self-absorbed human lifestyle and once again experience the love of her family, or should she embrace the exciting and carefree life of the canine world, which means never seeing her family again?
Burgess pulls no punches in this brutally honest allegory, filling it with plenty of frank language, profanity, and promiscuity. Consequently, readership should be limited to teens 16 or older, who are also the readers most likely to relate to Sandra's emotionally labile, hormone-ridden, and somewhat schizophrenic existence. (Beth Amos)