DOG BONE SOUP (Historical Fiction): A Boomer's Journey Kindle Edition
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"Bette Stevens has crafted a remarkable tale ofhope and happiness in the face of despair." --Charles Bray (Founder of The Indietribe)
From the Author
- Publication date : January 12, 2015
- File size : 621 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 216 pages
- ASIN : B00S5RMUDK
- Language: : English
- Lending : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,452,588 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The Daniels family live in a ramshackle house without indoor plumbing or enough groceries in the pantry. Yet, the dark passages of hardship are tempered with a tone of optimism. Lines like these capture Shawn’s ability to find pleasure in the everyday: “Us boys were still in stitches—laughin’, hollerin’ and jumpin’ up and down—when we spotted Mrs. Nettle. It was funnier than watching a Laurel and Hardy show. There she was running up that road—bare footed, curlers dangling and her housecoat blowing every which way. She grabbed ahold of Ben by the hair and started slappin’ him around and cussin’ up a storm. That’s when Willie and me and Buddy shot off like bullets.”
Readers will root for the main character because they have come to care about him. And perhaps because he is bullied at school and deprived of the necessities at home, we tend to excuse Shawn’s stealing apples from his neighbors or sneaking around milking a farmer’s cows before sunrise. Early on, we understand that Shawn wants a better life for himself down the road, which may include college or the military.
The dialogue and depiction of the era are outstanding, the entire story told from Shawn’s point of view. It’s not hard to believe that the novelist is a former middle-school teacher who understands the heart and soul of a boy – and the era of the 1950s and 60s in which the novel is cast. I can imagine author Stevens may have had a young man similar to Shawn in her classroom at some point in her career. A great coming-of-age novel I can recommend for all ages.
Shawn's mom, Henrietta, tolerates her husband's beatings and excessive drinking for many years. It is anything but a healthy environment for the two older boys and their two younger sisters. Rather than ever getting working plumbing, Eddy spends what little money the family has on television. When he isn't at work, he spends the majority of the time drinking and watching TV. Finally, Henrietta has enough and decides to divorce Eddy. Shawn, though still in high school, begins to take on more and more responsibilities in the running of the household. He goes to school, picks up work wherever he can, guides his younger siblings, and tries to provide for the family. Since food is scarce, the boys resort to sneaking apples from their neighbors and learning to milk a farmer's cows without permission to provide milk. The two boys also fish to provide much-needed food and do many of the chores around the house to help support their mom, who is doing the best she can working full time when her husband fails to offer child support.
Bette Stevens, crafts realistic characters throughout the story. I found myself rooting for Shawn, who faces many adult circumstances while still a boy. He is smart and a good student, but his schoolwork begins to suffer as he is bullied by other students who make fun of Shawn's dad and their life of poverty.
When Shawn is a senior in high school, he faces his toughest decision of whether to go on to college or join the military. One of the more interesting parts of the story is that President Kennedy's assassination takes place during that school year, and has quite an impact on Henrietta. There are many realistic obstacles, but the ending is satisfying and believable. I would recommend this book for high school-aged students as well as excellent middle school readers.
Here was a young man (Shawn), the main character, who was bright and had to overcome so many odds of just everyday living. Being poor presents so many challenges. He had a mother who was too weak to fight her husband, the provider of the family. But it’s amazing what you can accomplish once you make up your mind that you can live without someone who is detrimental to your well-being. I shouted for joy when Shawn finally stood up to his old man, because he was big enough to do it. I rooted for him when he finally stood up to the bullies in his life. We all remember those.
One thing this story teaches is that you should never let your pride stand in the way of getting help. It brought back memories of my childhood coming into our Catholic church for the first time and getting a big basket of food, a big turkey and desserts along with it for Thanksgiving. My mother didn’t turn down anything. She swallowed her pride and accepted it because she knew her children had to eat.
I give this story 3 stars because I just couldn’t get past the numerous misspelled and missing words. It had become a distraction. A good edit would fix this amazing story because right now, it's just a good story.
Top reviews from other countries
Shawn and his brother have daring adventures on their bicycles, collecting bottles along the roadside, exchanging them for cash, and buying pop, ice cream and other sweet delicacies...
As money becomes tighter, Shawn uses his ingenuity to put FREE food on the table, by milking their neighbours cows in early morning, taking windfall apples from a lady who refuses to give them these fruits, preferring them to rot...
The families money struggles also force their mother to make soup out of bones that would have been given to dogs.
However, Bette's book is never depressing. It is filled with the innocence of a childhood spent amongst the New England countryside, and a love of Nature. I absolutely loved her writing style, and I have no hesitation in recommending it to others.
Her characters came to life for me,beautifully portrayed.The long suffering mother,abusive father and several children thriving on their staple diet of dog bone soup.I loved the decision Shawn made to milk the cows before sunrise and pinch fallen apples from their neighbors.
The ending with the tenacity and common sense of Shawn leaving home for a career in the army was not only believable,but wise.
It opens with Shawn Daniels as he is en route for his military training at Fort Dix. Soon he thinks back to his family and the previous ten years.
The story quickly moves to his family's chaotic dysfunctional life as a child during the 1950s & 1960s. His father is the town drunk whose violence towards Shawn's mother colours all their lives. The family not only live with this trauma but also exist in dire poverty and from a young age Shawn is enrolled to helping with chores around the home. However, at the same time Shawn and his brother Willie have plenty of time to engage in typical exciting childhood escapades. The happy carefree life is strongly contrasted with their severe home circumstances. So desperate that weeks at a time the family are reduced to eating soup made from bones only fit for dogs - hence the title of the book.
As the family falls deeper into a life of drudgery the so called American Dream era passes them by. Shawn's education is affected as his time is increasingly used to help his mother scour for food and work. His mother remains a strong powerful woman in her own right throughout, always seeking out to do the best she can.
The novel covers ten years seamlessly as the narrative is fluid and effective. Shawn's matures from a young boy to a strong man making decisions for himself and his family.
Bette has brilliantly recreated the life of Shawn of the 50s & 60s America. The detail is meticulous and I was immediately transported to the era; it has a cinematic-feel. The author has also captured the vernacular of the time perfectly. The touching novel is well crafted and I was hooked from the start. I cannot recommend this book highly enough - it will stay with you long after you finish it. My only regret is that I long for a sequel. Any chance, Bette? What happens to Shawn afterwards? To his mother? Brother? Sister Annie? I just did not want to leave my new friends.
The characters are fascinating in their diversity, from the town drunk to the local writer, with the main cast richly-drawn in particular. There is a great deal of humour peppered amongst the hardship, and a childlike sense of fun from the first page to the last
This book is a must-read for anyone who lived through the period, and highly-recommended for anyone else. It educates and entertains in equal measure, and I read the book with a smile on my face.