Author: Joseph Monninger
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 288
Looking in her next-door neighbor’s trashed yard, sixteen-year-old Clair longs to help their abused, tied-up dog Wally but she keeps being torn between coming to his rescue and looking the other way. When she puts her foot down, the last thing she expects is to form a tentative friendship with Danny, the teenage son of Wally’s owner. Danny has a bad reputation and a mean streak, so why does she find herself drawn to him?
As she takes advice from a beloved priest/dog trainer whose book she reads and Danny helps her improve Wally’s manners, she learns more about Danny’s difficult life and his abusive relationship with his dad. When things between Danny and his dad go too far Clair finds her new life with Wally threatened when harsh reality forces it’s way in.
Whippoorwill is an authentic and bittersweet story about growing up and taking control of the things you can and letting go of the things you can’t. Clair and Danny are flawed characters with believable motivations and backstories and anyone who’s wanted to help an abused or neglected animal (and maybe, like me, didn’t do anything in the end to save said animal) will be able to relate to Clair’s guilty conscience.
Clair and Danny’s ambivalent slow-burn relationship feels a lot more natural than YA books with ‘can’t-keep-their-hands-off-each-other’ romances and the narrative doesn’t reach any easy solutions in its raw portrayal of troubled teen relationships. Dog lovers will particularly appreciate the big role Wally’s training and his relationship with Clair plays in the story.