Description: Cally Fisher knows she can see her dead mother, but the only other living soul who does is a mysterious wolfhound who always seems to be there when her mom appears. How can Cally convince anyone that her mom is still with the family, or persuade her dad that the huge silver-gray dog belongs with them?
Review: A Dog Called Homeless is a bittersweet story of a young girl trying to come to terms with grief a year after her mother’s death. Cally Fisher has started seeing her mom's spirit everywhere, though her family thinks she is imagining things. She keeps getting in trouble at school as she fixates on her mother's spirit, her best friend has dumped her, and her home life has been tough as she internalizes her own pain and confusion. Her once-lively father is numb, distracted and withdrawn, and Luke, her brother, spends his time perpetually playing video games.
When Cally signs up for a sponsored silence school charity fund-raiser, she discovers not speaking has its challenges but its rewards as well, and she decides to continue her silence after the event is over. Thankfully life becomes a bit brighter when her family has to move for financial reasons, and she meets neighbor boy Sam, who is blind and mostly deaf; Jed, a kindly homeless man; and a large silver-gray dog that she often sees with both Jed and her mother. Progressively, her experiences with each transform her life as well as the lives of others in unexpected ways. Cally also learns to open up her feelings and discuss them openly with others.
A Dog Called Homeless is beautifully written and offers an insightful portrayal of grief and healing without being heavy handed nor completely morose. Cally is a deeply drawn protagonist whose first-person account eloquently relays poignant and powerfully affecting moments especially her silence which speaks louder than her voice. Vivid supporting characters add depth, especially spirited, sensitive Sam, who not only embodies the meaning of friendship and family but also reinforces the value of connection, communication, and compassion in bringing hearts and lives together.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grade 4 and up.
If you like this book try: Because of Winn-Dixie by Katie DiCamillo, Shiloh by Phyllis Naylor