This book is about a boy who is going to be a freshman in high school. It goes through the typical "awkwardness" of trying to fit in in school. To add to his adjusting, his parents just got a divorce. He has a friend that lives up the road from him and they find an abandoned dog when they are walking along the beach. They decide that they are going to keep him and that because they both found him they will have joint custody over him. Leigh, the main character, can't take full custody of Strider because he and his mom live in a small apartment and the land lady won't allow dogs. He also knows that once school starts he won't have time to take care of the dog because he will have school and his job. He runs everyday with Strider and when he starts school he is asked to join the track team. Strider kind of helped him survive starting high school.
I loved this book! It kept me interested throughout the entire time I was reading it and I felt like I was there with Leigh experiencing everything with him. I think Beverly Clearly does a really fantastic job of describing the scenes and describing the situations the characters are in; when the joint custody doesn't work out as planned Leigh takes Strider to Barry's house and leaves him there to let him keep him I got really into the story and actually got a little emotional reading it. I also really enjoyed that the book took on a different perspective than just a white, middle class male who has two parents living with him and lives in a big beautiful house. Leigh's parents are divorced, he lives with his mom, and he rarely sees his dad until towards the end of the book. His friend, Barry's parents are also divorced and they live in completely different states so it talks about how Barry leaves for months at a time to go see his mom. I think this offers two different points of view on the same subject which is really good for students because, obviously, no one goes through everything in the same way. Also, Leigh and his mom live in a really small apartment and Leigh has to work to help his mom out. Although he doesn't see his mom much they enjoy the little time they do have with each other and Leigh is never ashamed of what he has; he is very proud of his mother. I thought this was great too because it shows that even if your life isn't like the "normal" life that everyone likes to imagine, you can still be very happy and very proud of your life. I would definitely love to have this book in my classroom because it gives the students another view point and allows them to relate in different ways.