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Under the Wolf, Under the Dog Hardcover – September 23, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (September 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763618187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763618186
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up–Sixteen-year-old Steve Nugent recounts the events that brought him to Burnstone Grove, a therapeutic facility for teens with substance abuse issues and/or suicidal tendencies. Intellectually bright, emotionally immature, and only moderately adept socially, Steve is coping with his mother's death, his older brother's suicide, his father's depression, and his own erratic behavior. With customary fluency when dredging these psychosocial swamps, Rapp creates a likable character leading an existence so grim that his crimes seem understandable. Steve has a better sense of humor than the antiheroes of Rapp's Little Chicago (Front St., 2002) and 33 Snowfish (Candlewick, 2003), perhaps because his life went awry a bit later than theirs. Steve is credible both as the awkward and intoxicated teen who doesn't deal appropriately with the brush off he gets from a popular girl and as the understanding friend who remains open-minded upon learning that a boy he admires is both gay and manipulative. The author explicitly describes the violence his protagonist experiences: when Steve finds his brother's body, there is an anatomically detailed description of how strangulation looks. However, while Steve's prehospitalization life clearly was spiraling out of control, he now seems to be truly on the mend, and the story's denouement finds him on the verge of reestablishing contact with his father. Rapp offers teens well-constructed peepholes into harsh circumstances, with a bit of hope tinting the view.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 10-12. Steve Nugent is a character as distinctive and disturbing as Salinger's Holden Caulfield was 50 years ago. Steve, who is writing from a Michigan facility for troubled teens, chronicles both the events leading up to his hospitalization and his interactions with fellow patients, the Blue Groupers (suicidal teens) and the Red Groupers (addicts), as a part of his counseling. Rapp effectively uses canine references (and some scatology) to illustrate Steve's loss of control as he struggles to find a place in the pack after his mother's death and his brother's suicide. Opening pages paint a horrific picture of Steve's older brother's death, but as the novel cycles through to a final coda of this same scene, shock turns to deep regret for all that Steve has lost, and readers will come away with a fervent hope that Steve's opening journal entry will come true: "By the time anyone reads this, hopefully I'll be out of this place and on to better things." Like last year's 33 Snowfish, this is not for timid readers or those easily offended or shocked by rough language or graphic descriptions, but teens will root from their hearts and even laugh a little as Steve struggles to fight his way out from under the dog of depression that has him pinned down. Cindy Dobrez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Like my future or whatever.
N. S.
Critics have called Steve names like "marginalized" and "outcast," but if that's Steve, then that's Holden as well.
Amazon Customer
The narrator has an intensely personal sense of humor and of the absurd.
Eric Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on September 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"I was so in love, I went into my room and drank half a bottle of Robitussin."

Reading Adam Rapp's upcoming novel, UNDER THE WOLF, UNDER THE DOG, is like watching a car wreck in slow motion...and it's such an awesome wreck that taking your eyes off of it for even a second is totally out of the question.

"We smoked and watched the trash whip around for a few minutes. Trash will make some pretty interesting shapes if you watch it long enough. I thought maybe it was trying to tell me something. Like my future or whatever. The same way people look at tea leaves."

In fact, not only couldn't I take my eyes off this book, reading it as I traveled over last Wednesday night from San Francisco to Chicago for Book Expo, but then on the flight home from Chicago last night, despite traveling with backbreaking quantities of new books in tow, I chose to read this one a second time. It's that good.

"It was amazing. If you ever want to change your life immediately, just sit down in some random fast-food place and start urinating in your pants. My lap was all wet and warm, and it was running down my legs and filling my Red Wing boots.

"I even told the manager. I said, 'I'm totally pissing my pants, man. Sorry.'

"The manager twiddled the ends of his mustache.

"He went, 'Well, that's not very sanitary, son.' Now I was his son. 'I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave.'

" 'Whatever, Dad,' I said. I was his son, so he was obviously my dad, right?

"We were one big happy Pizza Hut family.
Read more ›
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Twain on November 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In Under the Wolf, Under the Dog, Rapp brilliantly tells the story of a misguided young person who overcomes death and dysfunction within the ever-constricting nature of lower middle class suburbia. What makes this book work so well is how honest the main character is with the reader. Though his behavior is at times questionable, the reader wants to work with him throughout the story because Rapp creates a loyalty between what the protagonist is doing, and what the reader wants him to do. Understanding pain through a younger perspective, and an intelligent perspective, encourages and reiterates how much more advanced the young mind is despite what some adults may think. Under the Wolf, Under the Dog is humorous, heart warming, and truly enlightening, and turns a troubled teen into a hero of sorts; a hero that deserves to be respected, and be happy despite his and his family's shortcomings.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ignore the fact that others have already mentioned this, and let me be the first to compare Adam Rapp's novel UNDER THE WOLF, UNDER THE DOG to J.D. Salinger's CATCHER IN THE RYE. Of course, their characters Steve Nugent and Holden Caulfield are different, but they're alike in the way HoHo's know they're related to Ding Dongs.

Critics have called Steve names like "marginalized" and "outcast," but if that's Steve, then that's Holden as well. Which it's not. I'd like to see those critics try to deal with the death of their mother, finally watching cancer finish its job in her upstairs bedroom. I want to see them overcome a group of delinquent friends trying to deal drugs and rob the Piggly Wiggly market. I want to see them discover their brother hanging by a necktie down in the basement. How would they handle it and would that make them "marginalized"?

Here's the thing -- Steve is just a Gray Grouper at Burnstone Grove filling his journal with the past to hopefully make sense of the present. He's in love with Silent Starla, a Blue Grouper who isn't silent like everyone says. He's just a sixteen year old trying to recover from a life where "you have to deal with stuff on your own and that's all there is to it." It's this search that leads him to contemplate the universe and drugs, religion and the purpose of life, and "that particular part of the morning `between the wolf and the dog' when the sky is so deep blue and spooky or whatever that you can't tell what's what."

That's where Steve is. It's the reason he's at Burnstone Grove instead of the Gifted School he ran away from. And it's the reason the unique voice in his mind will howl in your brain, bringing you to laughter, and God help you, tears.

Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens
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A Kid's Review on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Usually, I hate it when people compare books to Catcher in the Rye, but here it's obviously deserved--not only because you can see the parallels between Holden and Steve's journeys with your eyes closed, but because, like Catcher, this book is amazing. It's a trainwreck that's great because it's so painful and real (and sometimes funny), and by the end I really didn't care that it was a Catcher ripoff, because it's just so good.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Adam Rapp takes us on another excruciating journey. In this case 16 year old Steve reeling from the loss of his mother to cancer and his drug addled brother to either suicide or accidental auto erotic strangulation. We are never really told which. gritty and even gross at times Rapp once again shows hist mastery of the youthful male voice.
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