Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Book Review: Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning
An old woman who has given up hope and a boy who believes the impossible wonder if life would be perfect at the Westminster Dog Show.
Seventy-year old Bess Rutledge has dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life. Despite her decades-long career as one of America’s top Standard Poodle breeders, she has decided she’s too old to hold on to her foolish dream. She sells off all the dogs in her once famous kennel except for the aging champion McCreery and his mischievous, handsome son Breaker. Part of her senses they might have been the ones to take her to Westminster, if only she’d dared to try.
Bess meets Benny, a teenager with mild autism who attends a therapeutic special school, and learns he has a dream of his own: to impress his self-absorbed mother. Benny is drawn into the world of dog shows and becomes convinced he has found the perfect way to win his mother’s attention. If he can win Westminster with either McCreery or Breaker, he just knows she will finally be proud of him. Getting Bess to go along with his plan, however, is not going to be so easy.
There is no doubt that this book tells the tale of how dog shows are really like. The author is quick to point out that the book is fictional in nature but as she has shown dogs too, she can write the book as if it was a true account.
The character Bess is self absorbed and has shown dogs for years. Throughout the book she is shown to love her champion dogs more than she loved her own son. Her son over the years tried to please his mother and only into adulthood does he finally succeed. This story coincides with the character Benny who tries his best to please his own mother but never quite seems to live up to her standards or for that matter the standards of his father who wishes him to be a lawyer.
Bess and Benny are an unlikely duo with a commonality. Bess sees something in Benny but cannot quite put her finger on it, although, the reader knows. Benny, in his child-like wisdom sees through Bess's strong interior. Their working together and Bess's patience with Benny is truly amazing. However, his patience with her is even more amazing as he learns that he must be patient with himself in order to gain what he wants the most...acceptance.
Acceptance is what the truly underlying story is all about wrapped up in a very good dog tale. All the characters, even the old dog, McCreery, seek this one issue throughout the entire book. In the end, they all get what they want as the author twist the tale in this adorable book.
I enjoyed reading this book although in truth, I thought it could have been shorter and still have told the same story. I did find that to be cumbersome at times.
What I loved most about this story was the character of Benny. It was no secret that Benny had problems and only later revealed that he was autistic. However, his autism did not hold him back or make him look foolish. In fact, I admired his tenacity to move forward and to learn how to cope even when it was most difficult for him.
I loved that this book put children who are autistic in a different light as "can do" kids as opposed to difficult kids. It was proven with Bess's character and that of the character David, that with a little love and a bunch of patience, that if given the chance, children with special needs will thrive and surprise us all and we just might learn something about ourselves.
This book gets 4 stars from me.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my open and honest review. The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Naila Moon
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