Tuesday, October 6, 2009

review: gone to the dogs by mary guterson

When your fiancé’s father is the one to inform you his son is dating somebody else, how do you react? Grad school dropout Rena’s answer is to steal the new girlfriend’s dog. Now she’s living with a dog she doesn’t know how to care for in a building that doesn’t allow dogs. Rena quickly discovers she has to take the dog outside every day, but that’s a problem since the building’s super spends his day watching the tenants’ comings and goings and a friend of Rena’s ex also lives in the building. Dealing with the breakup and sudden acquiring of a dog (what’s she supposed to feed “Big Guy” anyway?) should be enough, but her family decides to throw some more at Rena. Her sister might be abandoning her husband and religion while Mom has found new love and thinks Rena should have a new boyfriend too. Can Rena really straighten out her life when she’s still harboring the dog?

With all of that Gone to the Dogs should be depressing, but it’s just funny. I had to laugh when, upon learning Ron is her mom’s date, Rena thinks, “Suddenly the serial killer looked—dare I say it?—dangerously attractive. And very employed. He looked like a guy with potential, with features you might be able to work with.” That’s Rena. The guy’s a serial killer if he’s for her, but has potential if he’s with someone else. My favorite part was when Rena took Chuck (her setup) home after her mom conned him into having dinner at the restaurant where Rena is a waitress. In trying to suss out how Chuck will react to her dognapping, she asks what the worst thing he’s ever done is. The conversation that follows is terrific.

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