My thoughts: Holy wow! Where to start? I truly LOVED this book!
Bobbie Pyron is a gifted storyteller. This story is beautifully written.
The book itself is a reader's dream: the cover is wonderful, the print is easy to read with enough white space on the pages to be encouraging even though it's a "fat" book by a sixth graders point of view. The characters are realistic, the language is straight forward and easy to understand. The names aren't tricky or hard to pronounce, the storyline draws you in from the first page, and it's fast paced enough to keep you turning the pages without ever getting lost.
I sat down with every intention of reading for a little while and then getting some things done before coming back to the book. That didn't happen. I sat down with Bobbie's book and was "in" after opening the cover. I didn't leave the couch or close the book until I turned the last page, with tears streaming down my cheeks.
I am a dog lover. I have two dogs of my own and two "grand"dogs. I fell in love with Tam and Abby on the first pages. The bond between a girl and her dog is an amazing thing and Bobbie Pyron has captured it's very essence on the pages of her story.
I enjoyed how the chapters alternated between Abby and Tam so we were able to get both perspectives throughout the book. I loved the similarities in the experiences that each had in their journey, such as Tam and Abby both making unlikely friends who played key roles in the final outcome. I found it intriguing that there was so much about "Home" and what that meant. Many of the characters were searching as hard as Tam was for what they felt "home" was.
The characters are fantastic. The author has carefully created incredibly memorable characters. She has made them believable, realistic and easy to relate to. She has developed them so vividly that I was able to easily see them in my mind as I read the words. Each one stands strong - with their ideas, values, and beliefs at the forefront of who they are. I found myself relating the characters to people in my own life that fit into those same roles. I can't say there is a single character in the story that I don't like. aside from the trapper and the man with the rifle, okay - the few who show up once and are mean to the dog - I don't like them).
I enjoyed all them all so much that I find myself hard pressed to pick a favorite character. Usually this is easy for me when I read a book, but this time it was hard. I like Ian's "North Star" analogy, and I loved that later Meemaw explains that dreams change and sometimes wanting something for so long doesn't mean getting it is always the answer. I had tears in my eyes when Abby's mom told her she was her "North Star." I especially liked Olivia though. She seems wise beyond her years, reminding me of my sister. Two of my favorite parts of the book come from her.
(from page 32) Then she looked directly into my eyes. "My mom often said love creates miracles." And that was all Olivia had to say about that. And it was all I needed to hear.
(from page 125) ...My papa used to always say the earth only spins one way: forward.
The relationships between the characters are incredible. So much nuance and hidden meaning. There is a message in the book that comes through on almost every page, but isn't blatant. It leaves the reader to discover what it all means to them as an individual.
The story is one about a girl and her lost dog, but is in so many ways so much more than that. It is a story of hope, courage, fear, longing, believing, and love. It is a deep and touching story with more meaning than you would ever imagine by just looking at the cover, or even reading the blurb.
To be honest, while I would have readily handed it this to any of my students asking about a dog book, I would have told myself to add it to my reading stack and one day if I had time I would have read it. I am so very, very pleased that I was approached by Teddy Rose and asked to read and review A Dog's Way Home because if not, I would have missed out on an amazing and inspiring story.