A Dog Called Homeless

Lean, Sarah

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
A Dog Called Homeless
Fifth-grader Cally Louise Fisher stops talking, partly because her father and brother never speak of her mother who died a year earlier, but visions of her mother, friendships with a homeless man and a disabled boy, and a huge dog ensure that she still communicates.

Published: New York : Katherine Tegen Books, c2012.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 0062122207
Branch Call Number: J LEA
Characteristics: 202 p. ;,22 cm.


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Jun 18, 2013

A Dog Called Homeless is a heartwarming first novel for Sarah Lean. It is about a family coming to terms with the loss of a mother and wife, as well as a novel about friendship, hope and miracles. Cally befriends several important characters who seemingly have nothing in common. There is Sam, a boy who is blind and practically deaf; Jed, a homeless man; and Homeless the dog. The reader knows that they are all tied together in some way, but it isn’t until the end that we witness the true miracle of their relationship. This book is great for anyone who has felt loss or who just wants to read a very sweet story.

Apr 30, 2013
  • JCLChrisK rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One sign that a book is a good one is when it evokes an emotional reaction from you. I had an upset moment early in this one where I just wanted to shake Cally's dad for being so clueless and oblivious, and I knew then that the story had me hooked. It's hard to blame him for being distracted: his wife died less than a year ago, he's under huge pressure at work to save friends from layoffs, and he's having to sell the family house since his own pay has been cut. Yet everything he's doing at home with his two kids is so absolutely wrong that I couldn't help but blame him anyway.

Cally doesn't have the option to shake him nor the ability, despite her very definite awareness, to articulate how he is messing up, so she decides to not articulate it--in a contrarian moment at school, the normally boisterous, trouble-prone fifth grader volunteers for a day-long "sponsored silence" fundraiser, then decides she doesn't have any reason to stop being silent; if her dad won't bother to listen to anything she says, then she won't bother saying anything. It's the most she's done to express her continued grief about losing first her mother and now her house.

Cally's silence causes her dad plenty of grief, of course, and starts causing issues at school. But it also opens doors to unexpected friendships and events that are almost magical in their small but healing coincidences. Since I've already spoiled so many of the broad plot points with Cally and her father, I won't mention her mom's ghost, the homeless man with his mysterious, giant dog, the blind-deaf boy she meets, or any of the book's other elements. You'll just have to read it for yourself to find out.

I will share this bit of description I loved that indicates Cally's mental and emotional perspective as they go to look at the apartment they'll be moving into when her dad sells their house:

"It's got great views over the common and good-sized bedrooms; it's a fine example of Victorian history."

"We've done Victorian history at school, and I learned what it was like for children living back then when we rehearsed for Olivia!: misery, disease, and empty bellies."


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