Author: Michael Northrop
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Source: e-book from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads): Jimmer “JD” Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer “upstate.” No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it’s pretty clear that he has something to hide. It’s also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away—a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny’s powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.
I came across this title as I was clicking through NetGalley. The cover had me immediately as I am a HUGE fan of dogs. Anyone who knows me can tell you that. The idea of the main character connected to a rescue dog pulled me in. I put in a request, got my approval, and started reading.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was a pretty quick read. It is clear that JD did not stay with his aunt and I felt like his friends, wanting to know how he really spent his summer. JD did not seem like a “bad boy” at all, so I really wondered what he could have done. I also loved Johnny Rotten as a character in the book. He went through quite a bit – being chained and beat – before JD’s mom rescued him from the shelter. I really liked watching Johnny and JD’s relationship blossom as they learned to trust each other and JD learned there was more to Johnny than his tough outside. I feared for Johnny’s fate after one of JD’s friends, Mars, claimed Johnny bit him unprovoked and his family sues JD and his mom. As JD fights for his dog, we see the many sides of JD as he learns to come to terms with his past and his present.
One thing I really liked about this book is how it hit on the issue of stereotypes against “bully breeds.” Johnny is a Rottweiler, one of the most misunderstood of dog breeds, probably after Pit Bulls. Being a proud Pit Bull owner and lover of all dogs, I appreciate how Northrop addresses this issue as JD fights for Johnny. Many dogs have a lot stacked against them just because of the misconceptions that are out there. Johnny had some growing to do in order to trust people, especially males. But at his heart, he was a sweet dog that was just looking for companionship. I’m glad to see a book for teens that brings this up for teens to think about.
This is an enjoyable book and one I look forward to adding to my classroom. I can see reluctant drawn to this and enjoying it. Overall – 3/5 stars.