From the moment Fred (never Winifred!) spots a scruffy little mutt with sad eyes, she knows she's in big trouble. Toby's in bad shape, and Fred longs to rescue him from the old man with the mile-long mean streak who lives next door. But Margery -- the straight-talking woman who is fostering Fred -- says going over to their house is against the rules.
And since Fred will only be around until her mother comes to grips with her dependence, Fred can't let herself care too deeply. Not about Toby or Margery or Delia, a new classmate whose insistent friendship surprises Fred at every turn. Because the more Fred lets this lovable band of misfits into her heart, the harder it'll be to leave them all behind.
In this story of loss and love, acclaimed author Cecilia Galante examines life's difficult choices and how a girl plus the dog she loves can add up to finding family in the most unlikely places.
A 12-year-old in emotional and physical limbo narrates this beautiful novel by Galante (Stealing Our Way Home) about loss, honesty, and self-reliance. Fred (short for Winifred) is sent to live with a foster mother, Margery, a motorcycle-riding sculptor and welder, after her single mother, who refuses to acknowledge her drug addiction, is jailed for stealing prescription drugs from the pharmacy where she works. The story's multiple threads and relationships are precisely limned: Fred and Margery are both new to the foster-care system; Margery experienced hurt and anger growing up in a dysfunctional family, in her case with an abusive father and a drug-addicted sister; and Delia, Fred's new classmate and friend, is ignored by her grief-consumed parents following her brother's drowning and is bullied at school. Most heartrending is the relationship between Fred and Toby, the grossly neglected, dirt-caked dog next door, who observes the girl looking "defeated. Exhausted. And utterly alone." Galante's insightful portrayal of the interwoven bonds among Margery, Fred, Delia, and Toby and how they save one another creates a deeply affecting, ultimately hopeful novel. Ages 8 12.
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