Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron

A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 321
Received: Review copy provided by author (for blog tour)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads Page


From Goodreads:

One late fall afternoon, a tragic highway accident leaves eleven-year-old Abby and her beloved Shetland sheepdog, Tam, stranded at opposite ends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though each is determined to be reunited with the other, the days separating them turn to weeks, then months, and dangers and changes fill up Abby's and Tam's lives. Will they ever find their way back home to one another?

Classic in its themes and contemporary in its telling, Bobbie Pyron's A Dog's Way Home is the unforgettable tale of the many miles, months, and mountains that separate two loyal friends—but that can't possibly keep them apart.


There seems to be an endless supply of animal stories where the creature conquers great adversity to be reunited with the love of its human companion. A Dog's Way Home did not stand out in the genre for me, but it did warm my heart, which is exactly what a book like this should do.

Rocky start

A Dog's Way Home alternates chapters between Abby's first person narration and Tam's journey (narrated in the third person). At first I wondered why Abby's sections were there and if they could possibly be interesting. Maybe it's because I'm a dog lover, but I wanted to focus on Tam's journey and I was bored and frustrated for the first quarter whenever the focus shifted back to Abby's life.

The Abby parts were especially annoying to me in the beginning (I get it, you want your dog back. You miss him. You HAVE TO DROP EVERYTHING AND FIND HIM NOW!), which I'm sure makes me sound cold hearted. But I'm not, I swear!

Really, I can totally empathize with Abby and if I was in her position I would move mountains to get my dog back. But when reading a book? It got kind of annoying hearing the same thing over and over in each chapter. BUT...

More than expected

After a little while Abby's chapters started to get more interesting as her own journey began to take shape. Tucked between the dog story is a contemporary book about family and friendship that contained unexpected depth, heart, and insight.

While this may sound like a cluttered plot, Bobbie Pyron skillfully wove the threads together to make a balanced and well-paced story with the contemporary sections beautifully complementing the animal journey.

I don't love contemporary issues like this so I wasn't in love with it, but it was nicely done. These Abby chapters were filled with enough plot and depth that they could easily stand on their own without the Tam parts (but I'm glad the Tam parts are there too).

Little puppet made of pine

Though I did warm to Abby's chapters, I never warmed to Abby herself. I like her because I can connect with her over our shared love of dogs, but other than that she actually irritated me. It's hard for me to pinpoint exactly why I didn't click with her, but I think part of it is that she didn't ring entirely true to me.

To me she read more like an adult trying to sound like a kid than like an actual kid. The other children were less fleshed out, but they also felt a little off and I had a hard time connecting with or deeply caring for any of them. In contrast, Abby's parents, the other adult characters, and Tam all felt a lot more genuine and I cared for all of them.


Poor Tam goes through horrible experiences. Now, ok, I didn't expect a cakewalk here, but I was hoping for something more on the level of Homeward Bound (Disney's G-rated movie) than the more realistic bleeding and broken puppy I got.

It wasn't all a downer and Tam does encounter a lot of heartwarming help along the way, but prepare for something a little more PG than G.

The worst for me was an event that occurred on page 112. I almost DNF-ed the book right then and there (though I'm glad I didn't). If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to just skip right over chapter 20 entirely. Animal softies like me might wish to do the same.

Bottom line

A Dog's Way Home was a solid animal story and I'm happy to have read it (even if it did make me miss my dog like crazy). It is clear Bobbie Pyron is a dog lover and she writes about dogs--both from their POV and the POV of those who love them--with care and insight.

A Dog's Way Home is likely to be a hit with animal and contemporary lovers. A good fit for the classroom, though probably better suited for older elementary to MG readers. Adult readers might appreciate the development of the parents.

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about A Dog's Way Home that I haven't addressed? 
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Click here to read Bobbie Pyron's guest post and for a chance to win a copy of A Dog's Way Home!


  1. Oh no - hurt puppy stories. My heart twists as I stare at my innocent, helpless ever so sweet doggy lying on the floor right now.
    I can see how Abby's story would get frustrating to read. The dog's story would definitely be more interesting.

  2. Alison, Puppies! I know, it was so sad to read. Abby's story was annoying in the beginning, but it really did develop into a good story in its own right.

  3. I'm a big ole dog lover myself. I have two dogs of my own. They are both spoiled rotten. I hate to read about animal abuse. For some strange and unknown reason I sometimes feel worse for them than people. I think it may be because they don't have their own voice.

    I do like contemporary book so, this one may be a good fit for me.

  4. Gina, I was thinking of you and a few other dog lovers when I read it. I can see you liking this one.

  5. I'm a big ole dog lover myself.
    great review

  6. Nope, leaving the dog reading books up to you thank you very much. I wouldn't have touched this one for all the money in the world. (Well, maybe for ALL the money in the world.) But if I know there will be loss of time with my dog, for get it!

    Glad you made it through. Sorry about your puppy!!


  7. Oh, I don't think I could read this movie, I got teary eyed just reading your review and I ALWAYS cry during homward bound.


    *hugs* you're braver than me, madam!

  8. I cannot read dog stories. I start to cry.

  9. I have the hardest time with these journey stories. I can't watch Milo & Otis or Homeward Bound. They're too scary and sad for me. Maybe I would respond better in a book, though.

  10. THanks for the honest review! If I read this one, I may have to take your advice and skip ch 20 b/c I don't think i would like it much.

  11. Roro, Me too! Thank you :)

    Heather, haha, you would totally cry with me over that scene.

    Alex, I always cry watching Homeward Bound too!! When Chance and Sassy go over the hill at the end and then Peter is looking for Shadow but he doesn't see him and he says that Shadow was just too old but then the music swells and Shadow limps over the hill and he and Peter run to each other-- BAWLING! Every single time I see it.

    Midnyte Reader, I do too. This one isn't like Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows, if you get my meaning :)

    Logan, I love Milo and Otis and Homeward Bound! I used to watch them over and over and over.

    Carrie, You're welcome! Definitely skip chapter 20 ;)


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