A Dog's Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Kirkus Reviews –
The second half of a marathon voyage through the rhythms of life from a dog's-eye view. Cameron's 2010 bestseller recounted the spiritual journey of a dog as he struggled to find meaning in his relationships with people. This sequel picks up with Buddy, the good dog who looked after his master Ethan his whole life. Shortly before dying, Buddy has a visceral reaction to toddler Clarity June, causing the pooch to rethink his position: "I loved CJ as much and in the same way as I had loved Ethan," the dog, now reborn as "Molly," says. "So had I been wrong that my purpose was to love Ethan?" The new poodle shepherds troubled CJ through the perils of adolescence, from a tango with bulimia to a romantic triangle. After Molly disappears, we meet Max, a hyperactive Chihuahua who falls into CJ's lap. By now, CJ is an aspiring actress living in New York City who sidelines as (what else?) a dog walker. The novel is an undemanding but harmless retread up to this point, at which it leaps headlong into syrupy storytelling that makes look like by comparison. CJ suffers a debilitating illness that puts her into a coma, Max meets his first cat and an old friend reenters CJ's life at a critical juncture. No one remains unscathed in the book's circuitous second half. This maudlin sequel is overkill.
Library Journal –
Amy disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary, and while Nick has not been a model husband, could he really have killed her? It's soon evident that if Amy is dead, that's the least of the reader's worries. Flynn's last novel, Dark Objects, was a New York Times best seller, but this one is expected to break her out.
Home by Toni Morrison
Kirkus Reviews –
A deceptively rich and cumulatively powerful novel. At the outset, this might seem like minor Morrison (A Mercy, 2008, etc.), not only because its length is borderline novella, but because the setup seems generic. A black soldier returns from the Korean War, where he faces a rocky re-entry, succumbing to alcoholism and suffering from what would subsequently be termed PTSD. Yet perhaps, as someone tells him, his major problem is the culture to which he returns: "An integrated army is integrated misery. You all go fight, come back, they treat you like dogs. Change that. They treat dogs better." Ultimately, the latest from the Nobel Prize–winning novelist has something more subtle and shattering to offer than such social polemics. As the novel progresses, it becomes less specifically about the troubled soldier and as much about the sister he left behind in Georgia, who was married and deserted young, and who has fallen into the employ of a doctor whose mysterious experiments threaten her life. And, even more crucially, it's about the relationship between the brother and his younger sister, which changes significantly after his return home, as both of them undergo significant transformations. "She was a shadow for most of my life, a presence marking its own absence, or maybe mine," thinks the soldier. He discovers that "while his devotion shielded her, it did not strengthen her." As his sister is becoming a woman who can stand on her own, her brother ultimately comes to terms with dark truths and deep pain that he had attempted to numb with alcohol. Before they achieve an epiphany that is mutually redemptive, even the earlier reference to "dogs" reveals itself as more than gratuitous. A novel that illuminates truths that its characters may not be capable of articulating.