First of all let me say that this is my #1 book for upper elementary for 2017. In all honesty it deserves an award. Rosie is the perfect protagonist. She is stubborn, independent, feisty, and rough around the edges, but you can’t help rooting for her. With a narcissistic mom who prefers to be a lawyer, a kindhearted, loving father who has just had a stroke, and a grandfather who doesn’t want to raise another kid, Rosie endures. She’s a fighter. When her mom comes back to town to settle things after her dad’s stroke, she just makes everything worse. She gives away the one bright spot in Rosie’s life. Her dog. Being a fighter, Rosie is determined to get her dog back. On her dad’s hand-me-down bike she races around town every day looking. When she finally gets a tip that “crazy lady” Swanson may have her dog, she is fearless. She schemes and plans a way to get her dog back. When one plan fails, she comes up with a new one. Nothing will stop her, especially stories about a crazy lady who shoots squirrels in her barn.
The cast of characters is superb. From her militaristic, cantankerous grandfather, to the shy, Monopoly-loving foster boy next door, and all the characters in between, Fusco has worked magic. These characters come alive. The author airs their dirty laundry in full view, but does it in such a way that you can’t help but feel empathy. You will come away feeling like you want to meet these characters. They are described so perfectly that you will think they must really exist somewhere, that maybe this book is really a memoir.
There is so much to learn from this book. First of all, every kid needs a dog. There’s a reason they are man’s best friend. After you read this book, go get your kid a dog. Secondly, don’t think you know what’s really in a person’s heart. Both Rosie’s grandfather and the town recluse are not who they appear on the surface. They are both storing a mega load of love that is difficult to see until you really get to know them. Rosie learns all of this by the end of the book. A true gem and a must for every school library.