This is one of those books you admire, you are in awe of, yet something about it doesn't quite draw you in. And in this case, it is the hyper-focus on saving newborn puppies for a future in dog fighting that is the problem for me. Now I well understand why this poor black family in the days leading up to Katerina are in the business--they already own a prize winning pit bull. With no mother and an alcoholic father, one brother seizes on this as a solution to their economic plight. These puppies will sell for a a high amount since their mother is a local legend. The fourteen year-old daughter, Esch, tells the story. She is pregnant, and that of course contrasts well with the attempt to save the mother and the new puppies. Ward nails so many things including how a girl that age is more concerned with getting the romantic interest of the father than what lies ahead for her as a teenage Mom. I liked this family; they vibrated with life.
What is most remarkable here is the writing. It is lush, original, gem-like. And the evocation of the storm is brilliant too. A little less talk about birthing puppies might have made this my favorite book of the last six months. As it is, it is still near the top.
For more book reviews, see Barrie Summy