This novel, entitled The Dog Who Danced, is a story of the healing powers of unconditional love, and the depths of the bond between humans and canines.
Love, loss and redemption are explored in Wilson’s latest fiction One Good Dog.
As a young girl, Justine Meade lost her mother. Her father quickly married Adele, a stepmother who disliked and mistreated Justine. At 17, Justine left home. She found work in Brooklyn, married the boss’ son, but then divorced and began an itinerant life, always ready to move on. Wilson writes Justine in first person, with back story reflecting her never-quite-satisfied adulthood, one fractured by her teenage son’s recent resolution to live with his father. With her own estranged father battling cancer, Justine has been summoned home. Justine lives in Seattle, tends bar and has one maxed-out credit card. So she pays a regular patron $300 to hitch a ride in his long-haul rig, taking along Mack, her Sheltie and one source of unconditional love. On the road, the trucker assumes Justine is willing to share a bed, but Justine refuses. Frustrated, he strands her at an Ohio truck stop. Only when he reaches Massachusetts does the trucker discover Mack in the cab’s sleeper. He dumps the dog. In Ohio, Justine reluctantly accepts help from Mitch, a one-legged biker who, belying his gruff exterior, is a symphony violinist. Mitch could only chase the big rig for a short distance, which left Justine in a frantic and uncoordinated pursuit while simultaneously attempting to reach her father in New Bedford. Mitch appears near novel’s end, but his likable character deserves more. Meantime, Mack is rescued by Ed and Alice, a couple mired in a miasma of despair over the suicide of their daughter. Instinctively, Mack begins to heal the rift between them. While not detracting from the story, there is predictable anthropomorphism, and Wilson readily relies on a Sheltie’s nature and behavior to drive the emotion-packed story to its somewhat too-easy climax.
As with Marley and Me and The Art of Racing in the Rain, it’s hard not to like a book where a dog is a major player.