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Koja, Kathe. Straydog.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 112p. c2002. 0-374-37278-0. $16.00. JS

Rachel finds it much easier to relate to the animals at the shelter where she volunteers than to her high school classmates. She is particularly fond of dogs, and when a vicious stray collie mix comes into the shelter, "so beautiful, all gold and white and dirty," Rachel falls in love. She determines that against the odds she will tame and adopt the dog, and she writes about "Grrl" in her Advanced Language Arts class. Her teacher appreciates her writing talent, and encourages her to enter her essay in a competition. In the class, she meets another talented writer, Griffin, who tries to help her in her efforts to save Grrl. But the dog is too angry and frightened to be tamed, and when she attacks shelter workers she must be euthanized. Rachel is devastated and wreaks havoc at the shelter, but she finally comes to realize that Grrl was too wild and dangerous to save--and that writing about her is the best thing Rachel can do. No longer feeling like such a wild, angry "straydog" herself, Rachel moves out of her isolation and enters into a relationship with Griffin.

Rachel is full of passion and talent, and many readers will find it easy to relate to her fierce love of animals and to her pain over losing Grrl. Her difficulty with relationships is convincing too; like Grrl, it's hard for Rachel to learn to trust, but readers will be able to see the rewards when she reaches out for help. This short, swift read is packed full of emotion. For those who need to know, there are a few swear words. Paula Rohrlick, KLIATT
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Rohrlick, Paula
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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