Almost Perfect by Diane Daniels Manning
reviewed by Julie Failla Earhart
I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I do. If the cover looks like something I would like, or the title intrigues me, then I try it. Usually I’ve made up my mind long before I read the back cover. There is no way I could resist the cute poodle puppy on the cover of what appeared to be an enchanting read.
At the center of this novel are two flawed individuals: Seventy-year-old Bess and teenage Benny. I’m not sure that the author ever revealed his age, but if he’s over fourteen, he’s an extremely immature fourteen.
Bess is a bitter woman. For decades she enjoyed a distinguished career as one of the nation’s top Standard Poodle breeders. She dreamed of winning the Westminster Dog Show all her life, and even had the dog, McCreery, to do, too. Yet, she always held herself, and McCreery, back. A psychologist would say that she was afraid of success. Maybe, maybe there were other reasons. Now she’s in the process of tearing down the famous Umpawang kennels. She’s gotten rid of all the dogs except McCreery and his puppy-son Breaker, who is the spitting image of his daddy.
Enter Benny. He’s new to the neighborhood. After a messy divorce, Benny is forced to go live with his father and new stepmother. He attends a nearby therapeutic school for his autism. The one thing Benny wants more in the world—besides his mother to love and pay attention to him—is a dog. Dad says no, but Benny wants what Benny wants.
As he walks home from school one night, he hears a dog crying. Sure the dog is the perfect one for him, he tries to locate the source. There he winds up in Bess’s kennel.
The story that follows is an often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking story of two people and two dogs who teach other that life has more to offer than what’s happening at the moment.
I highly recommend this book; I give it 5 stars.