Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Chasing Augustus: A Review and an Audio Book Giveaway


What 10 to 14-year-old doesn't enjoy a good dog book?  If your son, daughter, grandchild, or student fits into that category, then Chasing Augustus by Kimberly Newton Fusco, is a book that you want to win for them.  

Rosie's got it tough. Her mother left her as a child to make a better life for herself in California. Her father has a stroke and is hospitalized. That leaves her paternal grandfather, Harry, in charge of raising her--something he is ill-equipped to do. On top of that, when her mother comes home temporarily, she gives away "Gloaty Gus"-- Rosie's "lug of a dog." 

From the first chapter, the reader is rooting for this spunky protagonist who feels as if she is "half the girl she used to be" without her furry, stubborn friend. As the title intimates, the book is mostly about Rosie trying to find Augustus and the various obstacles she has to overcome in the process. Readers see the sandpits which cover the town with grit whenever the wind blows--and which makes riding a bicycle (when she goes looking for her dog) include wearing swim goggles. Readers feel her apathy in school and cringe when she makes bad choices. And of course, they resonate with her longing to be reunited with her dog. 

Although this is a book about determination and not losing hope, it is truly about making friends in unexpected places. Readers meet Rosie's next-door neighbor, Phillipe, a foster kid who won't shrug off his huge overcoat and who is obsessed with Monopoly; Cynthia, a girl who gets on Rosie's nerves because she asks too many questions; Swanson, a mute woman who the town kids mock and fear but who provides surprising answers to Rosie's questions; and even her grandfather Harry, who is an ornery sardine-and-cracker-eating guy who makes Rosie get tutoring over the summer for her poor English grade; and Mr. Peterson her tutor who she despises at first, but who she learns to appreciate. 

Readers will care about Rosie, but they will also see how her behavior is not above reproach. She puts her desire to find Augustus above everything else; not caring about how her Grandfather will worry when she leaves home in a storm or how Phillipe feels when she pushes him into helping her. I think if the book is read in the classroom, I would recommend pointing out her lack of empathy and why she is self-absorbed in her quest. It would also be good to discuss how she resolves her relationships in the end. 

Here's an audio snippet from the beginning of the book. The narrator, Karissa Vacker, created an authentic voice for the first-person protagonist. The secondary characters are also portrayed well through a variety of authentic voices. 

And finally, a line early in the book which summarizes the sand-pit setting as well as Rosie's life, “If you don’t do something with all the grit in your life, things seem to jam up something awful."


A winner will receive a code from Tantor Audio and instructions on downloading the book. To enter, please leave me a comment with your email address if you are new to my blog by 6 PM on May 29. 


Theresa Milstein said...

I don't want to be included in this giveaway because I've read it. Let me just say it's such a sweet story full of voice!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Theresa.

Rosi said...

That cover is really engaging. I couldn't pass that without picking up the book and giving it a good look. Thanks for telling me about it. It sounds like a wonderfully complex book.

Debbie Allmand said...

No child is perfect, no adolescent is perfect and no dog is perfect but from the synopsis sounds like the young girl searching for her best fur buddy make a perfect match. Sounds like a great read!

Carol Baldwin said...

YOu got in just in time, Debbie. I'm picking a winner shortly!

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