Book Review : "Dog Boy"

Dog BoyDog Boy by Eva Hornung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy cats. Or, dogs I should say. What a book. A four year old boy is abandoned in an empty Moscow apartment by his mother and uncle. He wanders out alone for a short time and then he is adopted into a clan of feral dogs who live in the basement of a half-destroyed vacant church. For the next few years they become his family, he does as they do and they are his family. At first he is useless but eventually becomes indispensable thanks to his ability to strategize and to melt in and out of human spaces. The feral clan is fiercely loyal to each other, and together they survive even the harshest winters. I was pulled in completely, and cared fiercely about the pack as I read.

Understand, this is no children's fairy tale. The realities of their violent, brutal lives are told with no mercy. I had to put the book down a couple of times when something bad happened to the dogs or the boy. Eventually, the "dog boy" draws the attention of the militia and also a pair of researchers who run a clinic for children who can be rehabilitated. One really wonders by the end, who the beasts really are, here.

This book made me howl at the end. I wept. The whole thing is searing and engrossing and difficult and beautiful and awful. Like an unexpected vivid memory of home or a sudden grievous wound, I will never forget it, or quite get over it, I think. Wow.

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hedgewitch said…
I was curious to see this review, thinking it sounded fascinating, but now I know I could never have the courage to read it. Nonetheless you give us a clear and compelling picture of the themes, which are stark and universal. Excellent review, as always, and kudos for you to stand up to the pain this book must hold to learn its lessons.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
I had the same reaction as Joy. I read the sample, the writing is gripping. But difficulties of dogs and small children surviving hurts so much. I am too fragile right now to read it because I know the howls and tears I will have too, at the end. But I put it on my list and when I feel stronger, I will read it.