Almost Perfect

Almost Perfect

by Diane Daniels Manning


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780578136394
Publisher: Diane Manning
Publication date: 01/28/2014
Pages: 284
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

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Almost Perfect 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Tracy Slowiak for Readers' Favorite What a delightful read! That was my first thought after finishing Almost Perfect, the newest novel by author Diane Daniels Manning. This is the story of fourteen-year-old Benny Neuser, a young man who lives with a mild form of autism, as he struggles to impress his aloof mother, and Bess Rutledge, a seventy-year-old woman set to retire from her successful career of raising and showing Standard Poodles. Their lives intersect as Benny becomes convinced that the best way he can make his mother take notice of him would be to show an award winning dog at the prestigious Westminster dog show, and Bess can’t quite put away her secret dream of winning Westminster, something she’s hoped for all her life. But convincing Bess to allow him to show one of her two remaining poodles in the “Big Show,” when she’s turned down the opportunity her whole life, and even with the most gifted dog handlers, will take a whole set of skills that Benny’s not sure he’s got. I loved this book and its cover. Loved it. It warmed my heart, it made me laugh, it made me cry. Author Diane Daniels Manning clearly knows the world of dog shows as well as the world of children living with developmental disabilities, and this comes through in her wonderful book. The characters of Bess and Benny leap off the page, and I found myself truly caring about and rooting for each of them. Almost Perfect is a book that would appeal to anyone who loves fiction, a heartwarming story, or just a great read. I certainly hope that Diane Daniels Manning is hard at work on her next book because I, for one, will be lined up to read it when it’s released!
PureJonel More than 1 year ago
This was such a cute & sweet story.  I loved how Manning told a story of families coming to know one another on a deeper level amidst the nerves and chaos of dog shows.  I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that this novel didn`t race to the conclusion, as well as the fact that the conclusion wasn`t the one that I expected.  The well-developed plot combined with Manning`s eloquent narrative & descriptions were a treat.  Manning takes THE dog show and sets it as the backdrop for a fun, funny, and at times tearful story about being yourself, no matter your age, and encouraging others to do the same.  The entire last hour of the audio version had me in tears.  They were good tears, but definitely tears none the less.  All may not have ended the way the characters had imagined it, but it was the perfect ending for this heartfelt tale.   Manning has definitely developed a very diverse cast for this novel. Not only are the characters genuine, but the interconnectedness of their actions is the heart of this story.  She shows the complexities and intricacies of relationships, both dog-human and human-human in such a manner that it not only provides insight into the characters but also captures your heart.   Manning definitely had me wanting to start showing dogs, or to at least go to a dog show, by the end of the novel.  The world that she created was so alive, vibrant and inviting that I would have loved to join in.  This novel is the perfect fit for anyone who enjoys pets, people, or who is looking to read something about life and being yourself. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
lifeasleels More than 1 year ago
Almost Perfect was… cute. It had puppies and dogs – something that I love. Confusing. I felt that it was very ‘jumpy’. I didn’t feel it was a smooth journey – it stumbled between various times and characters and it made it difficult to follow along without having to go back at some points to figure out what was going on or where we were in the story. The actual story line itself made perfect sense towards the middle to the end. It was actually a story line I could relate to. The book focuses on Benny who lives with his father and stepmother – both are not people he feels close to. His goal in life is to make his mom (who is divorced from his father) to be proud of him. His mom is someone who does not seem to be able to care for herself, none the less Benny. And she let’s him down far too often, but as most children strive for – he wanted her attention, her love. The story mentions a lot of Benny’s school days at a ‘special school’ where he has no friends and visits his therapist constantly. (Honestly, where all of this fit into the actual story doesn’t make sense other than to show that clearly Benny is thought to have some sort of ‘issue’ and that he has no friends. The one friend he does make and the romance between his therapist and David? Not really important in my opinion.) Benny’s neighbor is Bess. An elderly woman who used to breed show poodles and had a kennel, but was ‘retired’ and tearing down what was left of the kennels after this last set of puppies. To cut to the chase; Bess’ life always revolved around her show poodles and her shows (such as the Westminster Dog Show). Her son David (mentioned above) gets put on the back burner and basically raised more by Mona, Bess’ twin sister. Almost Perfect revolves into this story of making up for mistakes, filling in for absent people, and a friendship that blossoms out of a common interest.
dedaDL More than 1 year ago
Almost Perfect is a very good read ~ I highly recommend the book. It is a perfect story about a older women, a young boy and a dog. Perfect read for all - especially Dog Lovers
gjo50 More than 1 year ago
Quick Summary: Bess has decided that even though she has owned world-class dogs, she is no longer going to compete because she might make a mistake in the ring. Benny is a boy who has emotional problems because his parents fail to see reality, so he has no belief in himself. What I liked: I totally connected with both Benny and Bess; the characters are well formed and very realistic. I liked that there were multiple connections between characters, creating a deeper story. I enjoyed the story about the dog because; I am a dog lover. I liked seeing both Benny and Bess grow and learn to deal with their lives in a better way.  What I did not like: I actually cannot remember anything I did not like. The bottom line: This is a sweet story that anybody will enjoy, but I think that YA readers who need a little emotional lift will love it. Status in my library - I intend to order a copy. Rating > Overall - 5  Creativity - 4 Characters - 5 Engrossing - 5 Writing - 5 Appropriate length to tell the story - 5 Content> Language - none Sexuality - none Violence - none Drugs/alcohol - none I received an ARC from NetGalley.
ebomb143 More than 1 year ago
"Almost Perfect" is a heartwarming story about a boy name Benny who dreams of owning a dog and Bess, an older woman who has dreamed of showing one of her prized dogs at the Westminster Dog Show. A unlikely friendship forms between Benny and Bess over their love of their dogs Breaker and McCreery. "Almost Perfect" is a book about everyday people thinking they are too young or too old to live out their dreams. Diane Manning made me instantly fall in love with all of the characters, especially Benny. Benny is a young man yearning for the love and affection of his divorced parents and stepmother. Benny's mother is never around when he needs her and his father wants Benny to grow up in his footsteps. Along with a story about two people and their journey to the Westminster Dog Show it also draws you in to a plethora of emotions with all of the characters. I feel that anyone would love this uplifting story, but I feel that young adults would realy find this book enjoyable. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
KMH3030 More than 1 year ago
Almost Perfect is a beautifully written and heartfelt novel about finding and working for happiness. The story follows a wide cast of characters, but the heart of the story is about Bess, an aging woman who has started giving up on her dream of winning the Westminster Dog Show with the poodles she loves and raises, and Benny, a teenager with a dysfunctional family who dreams of owning a dog. Though Bess is planning on giving up her career of raising and showing poodles, circumstances lead to her keeping one special puppy and working with Benny. The author does an amazing job of building the characters, you really end up rooting for each of them, especially Benny. She writes a really sweet story of finding friends in unlikely places, and shows how much happiness people can bring into each other’s lives. I loved how much both Benny and Bess grow through their love of the dogs they work with. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
esosweet More than 1 year ago
Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning lived up to its name. The book is the story of a young boy named Benny who dreams of owning a dog and an old lady named Bess who dreams of taking a dog to the Westminster dog show. The two are neighbors and meet because Benny thinks he keeps hearing a puppy and follows the noise to Bess’s kennel.  Benny is a student at a school for kids with issues and spends a lot of time with school’s founder and psychiatrist, Dr. Kate. I read in several other reviews that Benny was autistic. I never got that impression from the book, but I might have missed it. (If you read it, let me know your thoughts.) It took me a while to get into this book (I was about halfway done, before I wanted to pick it up each time), but I was glad that I finished it. I recommend it, if you like watching The National Dog Show each Thanksgiving. ( Side note: did you see the Min Pin escape artist this year?)  Anyway, would I recommend this book? Probably. Given the right audience (dog lovers or lovers of determined kids) it will be a huge hit. I love dogs, so the dog show aspect was fascinating. I love determined kids and the insight into everything that Benny was trying to overcome was intriguing as well. This story doesn’t have much action and it takes a long time to build to the excitement.  Finally, I was a bit confused by the ending. While I understood what happened, it was like there was chunk of the story missing and I didn’t know how it went from plot point A to B.  I received an advance copy of the book for free from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A heartwarming story for a reader of any age. While the cover shows a cute puppy and the plot develops in a dog show setting, the book ultimately deals with several different family dynamics. The family dynamics include a stressed mother/son relationship, regretting past decisions, a child struggling to deal with divorced parents etc. most readers should be able to relate to one of these. I agree with another reviewer that the book started off slowly for character development, but once the plot progressed it was an easy read. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, which I won't elaborate on and give away, but it wasn't what I was expecting to happen. Overall, this novel was very enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.