From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Nicky and his mother live in a tiny apartment in a less-than-affluent area near Boston since his parents separated. She says he acts more like a 40-year-old man than an 11-year-old boy. In the area of behaving responsibly, she's probably right. One night, instead of dinner, she brings home a former seeing-eye dog with a mysterious past, but Nicky doesn't want him. During their walks, Reggie tries to go in certain directions, so Nicky finally lets him, hoping to discover his former owner and why Reggie was at the pound. He meets new people, becomes familiar with a new neighborhood, and discovers some of the dog's history. Nicky also tries to fit into a new school with tough kids and is confused and hurt that his dad doesn't see him on weekends. The story is told in the authentic voice of a boy who is dealing with too much upheaval in his life, including his mother's depression about her new lifestyle. What he thinks and actually says are often poles apart, but kids will immediately pick up on the difference. There are a few crude words and the action drags a bit in the middle, but young people, especially those who have had to take on responsibility at home, will enjoy the story.—Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC
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Since his parents’ recent divorce, Nicky, 11, has moved with Mom into a rundown Boston city neighborhood. Why doesn’t Dad come and take Nicky away? It must be Mom who is to blame. Then Mom brings home a guide dog, Reggie, who was trained to lead the blind before he was dumped at the pound. Nicky bonds with his new pet, and together they run away, retracing the Freedom Trail, which Nicky remembers walking with Dad. Adult writer Corriveau roots his debut youth novel in Boston’s independence struggle, and the parallels get a bit heavy. What will hold readers is the young runaway’s elemental bond with his loyal sidekick, shown in descriptions that cover not only the dog’s training but also the realism when Nicky messes up and even endangers his pet. The characters are vividly drawn without sentimentality, especially Mom; Nicky’s Latina classmate, who tries to be his friend; and the bullies who come to respect him for running away. More than independence, it is Nicky’s blindness about Dad’s rejection that is the powerful theme. Grades 4-7. --Hazel Rochman