Review of Strays: A Novel by Jennifer Caloyeras
Iris Moody is a California high school junior, living with her emotionally distant dad. Things haven’t been easy for Iris. Her mom was killed in a drunk driving accident and her dad’s response to the loss was to rid himself of all traces of his departed wife, while uprooting Iris from her home, friends and school. Iris is dealing with all of these changes the best way she can, which unfortunately includes some violent bursts of anger. When a confrontation with a rigid and unsympathetic English teacher turns ugly, Iris is arrested and sentenced to community service. Her well-meaning lawyer snags Iris the last spot on the Ruff Rehabilitation team, unaware of her intense fear of dogs. And thus begins the tale of Iris and Roman, an abused and frightened three-legged Pit Bull.
Strays is so much more than a story about a young, angry girl who learns to trust others and accept their help. It’s about grief, compassion, understanding and forgiveness. It’s about acknowledging that sometimes life can suck, but it’s important to find productive ways to work through it – and in the process, we just might be able to help someone else.
Jennifer Caloyeras’s writing is lovely and descriptive. Her book definitely struck a chord with me, since we rescued our Pit Bull, Penny, the day before she was scheduled to be euthanized. However, being a Pit Bull owner is by no means a prerequisite for finding value within the pages of this emotional book. Strays touched my heart and I would be willing to bet it will do the same for most people who read it. Although Strays is categorized as a children’s/YA book, adults will enjoy and appreciate it too. I would definitely recommend Strays and give it five stars!
5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton