LOOKING AHEAD: The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes by Marlane Kennedy
This is a sweetie pie of a book. A nice book, as I like to say. A book you can hand to a grandmother or a mother or an aunt or the kid themselves and simply say I think you will really like this. There's always enough room in the world for another nice book, and I'm glad this one is here.
Charlotte does not like dogs, but somehow she has ended up caring for Beauregard, the massive Saint Bernard her father has brought home. Her father brings a lot of stuff home that he abandons - hobbies and the like - but Charlotte isn't usually stuck taking care of those things when her father loses interest. But just like always, after a few weeks, her dad has lost all interest in the dog - he forgets to feed him, and never walks him, and never visits him. Begrudgingly Charlotte has begun to do all of these things.
But she doesn't want to, so she plans to get rid of Beauregard. First she tries to give him to Grace, the new girl at school, but that doesn't work. So then she takes him to the shelter and says that she found him. Score! They take him in. That works for awhile, until her dad calls the police to track the dog down and discovers that he's at the shelter. Despite her dad's disinterest, he goes and gets the dog anyway.
Charlotte hopes that this means her dad will take renewed interest in Beauregard, thereby freeing her up from her unwanted duties - but of course this doesn't happen. Charlotte's right back where she started, scheming to free up her time. However, as she continues to try to figure out how to get rid of the dog, something strange starts to happen to her. Could she actually become a dog person? And if she does, what is the best thing for Beauregard?
I love the family in this book - the dad that continually brings piles of crap into the house; the mom with postpartum depression who really needs the dad to help more instead of bringing more crap into the house; the funny toddler brother and the enterint-the-eyerolling-stage teenage sister; and Charlotte herself, sarcastic and pouty and loving and generous. There's also a great subplot where Charlotte helps take care of an elderly shut-in for some extra money; this subplot really fleshes out Charlotte's character and introduces us to her friends in more depth.
I'm not really a dog lover, but this book made me think I could be.
Pub date: March 2009