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How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog) Hardcover – May 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

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
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810982986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810982987
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,892,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Art Corriveau's first adult novel, HOUSEWRIGHTS, was published by Penguin in 2002, and was a "Book Sense 76" summer selection. His widely published short stories were collected as BLOOD PUDDING by Esplanade Books in 2008. His debut middle-grade novel, HOW I, NICKY FLYNN, FINALLY GET A LIFE (AND A DOG), is forthcoming from Amulet Books in Spring 2010.

Corriveau graduated from Boston University, and received an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Michigan. He has held writing fellowships at prestigious art colonies such as Yaddo, MacDowell and Djerrasi. As a travel writer, he has lived in and written about such places as the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Thailand and Hong Kong. He makes his home in New Mexico.

Customer Reviews

The language is real, as is Nicky's voice.
The main character had a lot to overcome, but I don't feel like he really learned from any of it.
Valerie A. Baute
I also did not like the scenes of violence between the parents.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
How I, Nicky Flynn Amulet Books, 2010, 272 pgs., [...]
Art Corriveau ISBN 0810982986

Have you ever known anybody with a guide dog? Well Nicky Flynn is the owner of a former guide dog Reggie. Nicky is an eleven-year old boy. Nicky lives with his mom in Boston, MA. Nicky's parents are divorced and they got a divorce over a [...] bottle of French mustard. It sounds crazy, right? Nicky's dad never spends time with him it's a different excuse every weekend.
When Nicky's mom brings Reggie home from the shelter Nicky goes ballistic. His mom says "You have always wanted a dog and now you have one." Nicky's parents are divorced and every time Nicky has plans with his dad his dad cancels. One night when Reggie attacks Nicky's mom she says "I will be getting animal control out here tomorrow morning." That is the night of the great escape. It takes one mistake to miss up you whole life. Reggie didn't attack Nicky's mom for no reason. She was going to give Nicky a high-5 and Reggie doesn't like it when someone puts their hand up to Nicky. Nicky and Reggie go on a journey they won't forget.
I love the way Art Corriveau writes this book. He does different headings instead of chapters like Wednesday night, the Holke's office. Art writes in great detail and is an amazing author. Art gives many details about the plot, setting, and characters.
I was shocked while reading How I (Nicky Flynn) Finally get a Life (and a dog). There are many twists and turns in this crazy book. It is breathe taking and an adventure of a lifetime

Amazing Alyssa
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Format: Hardcover
Summary: Nicky Flynn's life just got a whole lot harder. His parents are going through a messy divorce, and as a result he's starting a new life, in a new city, in a new school. Now his mom has brought home Reggie, an eighty-pound German shepherd fresh from the animal shelter, who used to be a seeing-eye dog. At first Nick isn't sure about this canine intrusion--it's just another in a series of difficult changes. Soon, however, Nick is on the path to finding out why a seeing-eye dog would be left at an animal shelter, and along the way discovers that Reggie is a true friend that Nick can rely on. But when he tries to reconnect with his dad, Nick puts everything on the line, including the life of his new best friend.

Every so often a book comes a long that really hits home when it comes to the issues that kids can really relate to. You can only imagine how many kids I talk to throughout the year who are currently or in the recent past, dealing with divorce and some sort of upheaval different than their pre-divorce life. This book really hits the mark and catches all the little pitfalls that lie along the path of divorce and separation.

Feeling rejected by his father and responsible for his mother, Nicky is overly mature for a 12 year-old (his mother often refers to him as acting more like a 40 year-old than a 12 year-old.) This leads to some anger management issues that sometimes get in the way and its obvious that what Nicky thinks and what he actually says and does are two different things.

The climax of the story is when Nicky risks losing his newly found friend and sidekick Reggie in an effort to reconnect with a father who may not have the best of intentions. A heartwarming story that will connect with a lot of readers.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wayne S. Walker on July 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Nicky Flynn is eleven years old (P.S.--eleven and three fourths) and in the sixth grade. His parents have just gone through a messy divorce. His nice house in suburban Littleton, MA, has been sold. His dad has moved into an apartment in Littleton, and he and his mom have moved to Charlestown, just outside of Boston, for her new job, so he has to go to a new school and try to make new friends. Nicky misses his dad, who is supposed to see him a couple of weekends a month, and he is sure that his mom is lying when she tells him that his dad has called or texted or emailed to say that he has a sales meeting in Vegas, or colleagues visiting from out of town, or the flu.
Then Nicky's mom goes out and brings home an eighty pound German shepherd named Reggie from the animal shelter. While taking Reggie for a walk in Monument Park, he meets three old guys from the veterans home playing bocce who recognize Reggie as their blind friend Alf Santorello's guide dog. Trying to find out why a guide dog was taken to the animal shelter, Nicky goes around Alf's neighborhood with Reggie pretending to Alf's grandson. Then things blow up between him and his mom. After she goes to give Nicky a high five Reggie attacks her and she says that he's going back to the animal shelter. So Nicky runs away with Reggie to find his dad, walking part of the Boston Freedom Trail in the process. But Reggie gets injured on the way. Will Nicky make it to his father's place? Will he work out things with his mom? And will Reggie be all right?
Written as if told by Nicky himself, this is a very interesting story that will hold the reader's attention. Plus there's some information about the Boston Freedom Trail.
Read more ›
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