When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan
|When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Funny and inspiring coming-of-age story whose first person narrator is a boy with Tourette's Syndrome. You won't forget Dylan Mint in a month of F*CKING SUNDAYS. YOU D*CKSTABBER!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: January 2014|
Shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal
Dylan Mint is 16. He thinks about his dad, away on a Special Forces secret mission. He also thinks about football, music, girls, sex - or the lack of it - and all the other things teenage boys think about. So far, so normal. But Dylan also has Tourette's Syndrome and his life is a constant battle to keep it at bay - the ticks, the swearing, the growling and barking of Mr Dog, who always manages to escape when Dylan gets stressed.
And then, one day, on what he thought was a routine visit to the hospital, Dylan overhears his mother and doctor talking. It seems as though Dylan is a ticking time bomb. He'll be dead by March. So Dylan makes his very own bucket list of cool things to do before I cack it. It has just three items on it:
To have sex with the school's best bad girl, Michelle Malloy. To find a new best bud for his best bud Amir. To get his father home from the war.
It might only be a short list but it's an ambitious one. None of these wishes will be easily achieved. But Dylan, aided by the bold Amir, sets about it with gusto. Only to find that nothing in his life is quite what he thought it was...
I loved, loved, loved this story. Loved it. Y'hear?
I took so much from When Mr Dog Bites that I'd be here all day if I were to try to give you the full list. But two things stand out. Firstly and perhaps most importantly for me, a mother, is that parents should tell their children the truth. Always. Even when the truth is unpleasant. Dylan's horrible times in this story are partly caused by his own misunderstandings but also partly by the lengths to which his mother goes to protect him, which include being economical with the truth. But, as you'll see when you read, she ends up failing to protect him. When Mr Dog Bites shows, very clearly, that while you might want to spare children every detail, they will always be better off if they understand a solid core of truth. Secondly, I can't forget a particular passage from Dylan in which he points out all the bad things that "normal" people do with horrible regularity - drinking, fighting, cheating - that "spazzie" (Dylan's word, not mine) people just don't. You try setting these common bad behaviours against a few Tourette's tics and swearing outbreaks and tell me which one is worse. I dare you.
I loved Dylan. I loved his mum. I loved his best bud Amir. I loved Michelle Stroppy Malloy. I loved Dylan's incredibly honest and incredibly politically incorrect use of language outside of his Tourette's - it's meaning, not words, that do the hurting. Coming-of-age stories are always great to read - funny and heartwarming - and, shock, horror, people with Tourette's come of age, too. I won't forget Dylan Mint in a very long time. The temptation to swear in CAPITAL LETTERS here is great, but I'll leave that to the summary on your right.
I hardly need to mention The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon but you might not know about The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. You might also enjoy My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher.
You can read more book reviews or buy When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan at Amazon.co.uk
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