Monday, July 12, 2010

Notes From The Dog by Gary Paulsen

Fourteen year old Finn doesn’t have the greatest life. He’s a short, overweight kid. And mom told his dad she wanted to take a course in college in another state in America… and she never came back. Finn isn’t a really happy kid, he doesn’t have many friends except a dog named Dylan and a few friends from school. His best friend’s called Matthew. Finn likes to read because it puts him in a place where he’s happy and takes him out of his real world. Finn hates being around people, and he can never talk to strangers normally, because he’s so shy.

“Matthew has friends in every group at school: the brainy people, who, even in middle school, are starting to worry about the “come app” (that’s the universal college application form, but I only know that because I Googled the word after I heard them talking about it so much); the jocks, who carpool to their orthopedic doctor appointments together and brag about there torn cartilage and bad sprains; and of course the losers. Like me.”

One day Finn is sitting on his front porch reading when his neighbor Johanna, a 24 year old woman who has recently survived breast cancer offers him a job gardening in his own garden, because Johanna doesn’t have room for one, but loves gardens.

“I thought you weren’t supposed to do anything to your yard.”

“Not my yard. Your yard.”

“You want to hire me to plant a garden for you in my own yard?”

“I most certainly do.”

Finn accepts the job. Over time Finn begins to feel like Johanna is just part of his family. Johanna figures out that Finn doesn’t like being around people, so she helps him learn to like hanging around people.

“Before Johanna I had never been the highlight of anyone’s day.”

Finn begins to get mysterious notes from Dylan (the dog). The notes say things about him that make him feel better. At the same time Finn figures out that Johanna is collecting money for breast cancer and is entering in a triathlon fundraiser. She has done so much for Finn and always been kind to Matthew that they decide to help her raise money.

“Dude.” A tattooed man three times my size lumbered forward. His nose ring caught the sun and there was a picture of a skull on his black T-shirt. He opened his wallet, which was attached to his jeans with a metal chain. “Here’s something for your girl. My Ma had that. She’s all right now, but, man, that’s one badass disease.”

Notes From The Dog, has lots of funny scenes in it. My favorite is when Finn is getting ready for a date with a girl named Karla and he puts some self-tanner on.

“Johanna was sitting on the front steps waiting for us. She did a double take when she saw me, but she didn’t say anything even though I looked like a highway caution cone.”

I really enjoyed reading this book. Although it didn’t have to do much about notes from the dog, there are some parts that have to do with the title. I think this is the best Gary Paulsen book I’ve ever read - much better than Hatchet.

Where are these mysteries notes coming from? Will Finn ever enjoy hanging around people?

I also thought it was really cool how the main characters name is Finn!

3 Stars

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