A 2023 National Book Award Finalist
A Michael L. Printz Honor Book
A resourceful teenager in rural Vermont struggles to hold on to the family home while his mom recovers from addiction in this striking debut novel. Ian Gray isn’t supposed to have a dog, but a lot of things that shouldn’t happen end up happening anyway. And Gather, Ian’s adopted pup, is good company now that Ian has to quit the basketball team, find a job, and take care of his mom as she tries to overcome her opioid addiction. Despite the obstacles thrown their way, Ian is determined to keep his family afloat no matter what it takes. And for a little while, things are looking up: Ian makes friends, and his fondness for the outdoors and for fixing things lands him work helping neighbors. But an unforeseen tragedy results in Ian and his dog taking off on the run, trying to evade a future that would mean leaving their house and their land. Even if the community comes together to help him, would Ian and Gather have a home to return to? Told in a wry, cautious first-person voice that meanders like a dog circling to be sure it’s safe to lie down, Kenneth M. Cadow’s resonant debut brings an emotional and ultimately hopeful story of one teen’s resilience in the face of unthinkable hardships.
Ever since 10th grader Ian Gray and his mother were abandoned by Ian's father, things at home in rural Vermont have been difficult for the family. After Ian's mother hurts her back at work, she loses her job and becomes dependent on prescription opioids to cope with the pain. When she's hospitalized, Ian is forced to rely on his own skills to care for their home. He quits the basketball team to look for a job, makes repairs around the house, and struggles to ready their dilapidated car for inspection. Luckily, his knack for fixing things lands him an opportunity to make money working for kind neighbors. He even pseudo-adopts Gather, the enormous stray dog that has been wandering into his family's yard, and befriends new student Sylvia. Upon his mother's return, she finds employment at a local diner. Ian is sure that good things are on the horizon for them, until the government threatens to repossess their land for nonpayment of taxes. Ian's genuine first-person narration—enriched by his penchant for pithy metaphors and similes—unveils a protagonist whose innate sense of justice and tentatively hopeful perspective buoy Cadow's sober debut. Main characters read as white. Ages 14–up.