Book Review: Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras

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Today, I am pleased to be kicking off a new week-long feature for a really remarkable new YA novel — in stores now — about the unique relationship between an outcast teen girl and an unwanted dog. Be sure to tune in every day this week for more unique content about the book, plus your chance to win a copy.

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A touching story about the unlikely bond between a troubled teen and an unwanted dog, Strays by Jennifer Caloyeras embodies the spirit and power of second chances.

straysSometimes, life becomes unleashed…

Sixteen-year-old Iris Moody has a problem controlling her temper—but then, she has a lot to be angry about. Dead mother. Workaholic father. Dumped by her boyfriend. Failing English.

When a note in Iris’s journal is mistaken as a threat against her English teacher, she finds herself in trouble not only with school authorities but with the law.

In addition to summer school, dog-phobic Iris is sentenced to an entire summer of community service, rehabilitating troubled dogs. Iris believes she is nothing like Roman, the three-legged pit bull who is struggling to overcome his own dark past, not to mention the other humans in the program. But when Roman’s life is on the line, Iris learns that counting on the help of others may be the only way to save him.

With sparkling prose and delightful humor, Jennifer Caloyeras’s novel beautifully portrays the human-animal bond.

Strays is a quietly moving story about starting over, and the powerful bond that can form between animals and humans. Caloyeras’ prose is instantly captivating, and readers will feel for Iris’s agony and her pain. Iris is a multi-faceted character — as are the others we are introduced to throughout the story. These fully-realized individuals — both people and dogs — who populate the story are what really bring Strays to life.

It’s also refreshing to find a more mature story about the human-animal bond. So often, stories about animals are geared towards younger readers (or they are traumatizingly heartbreaking, thank you very much, Marley & Me, ahem). Strays is an ultimately uplifting and hopeful story — but certainly deals with tough subjects in a mature fashion that both teens and adult readers will appreciate.

Beyond the bond between animal and human, Strays is also about the bond between individuals — friends, family, teachers, partners. And the parallels between Iris and Roman help show that everybody — whether you walk on two legs or four — sometimes needs a hand up, and a second chance.

Strays is in stores now.


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