📖 Novel of the Week: Soldier Dog by Sam Angus

I finally managed to read Soldier Dog by Sam Angus, a book that caught my attention just with its beautiful cover (both in the English and Italian edition). What shoul have been a good story about a boy and his dog turned out a wonderful description of a young boy's journey during the horrors of World War I and how loyalty and reliability between a human and a dog can literally save someone's life, in more than one way.

England/France, 1917-18
Stanley Ryder is forced to live alone with his bossy and depressed father, after his mother died and his older brother Tom enrolled in the army, to fight in France. The only "thing" Stanley's dad is interested in is their dog Rocket, a local run competitions champ, but that as well slide away when Stan forgets to keep the dog in and, after a night, she comes back pregnant.

When the puppies arrived, Stan's father brings them to a gathering of hunters to give them away, but Stanley keeps the only male of the litter and name him Soldier...however, after several weeks, the dad takes Soldier away and that's what forced Stanley to make drastic decision: to enroll him as well in the army to go and live with Tom.
Destiny wanted Stanley to be amazing with animals (thanks his innate empathy with them) so he gets into the "canine unit", to train messangers dogs. This is war, where humans and animals lives are really in danger of death so it's of extreme importance that the dogs deliver their messages quickly and promptly.

Stanley wasn't ready to go first line in war: that will make him rethink his decisions and stumble when bad things start to happen...

What I liked 👍
It's safe to say I'm a dog person (even if I've never had one...yet) and I'm not saying this because only dog people can enjoy this book...au contraire! 
I'll add this to my "book I've cried for" list because it has such an emotional end and I unsuccessfully tried to fight tears back. Dogs' well known features (such as loyalty and trustworthy) are protagonists in their own way and are very relevant as we get to know the dogs that Stanley ends up working with. 
What I did not like 👎
The first part is lacking in clearness of the descriptions, I had to re read a few lines more than once to understand what was going on

As soon as the story starts to define itself, the novel takes a whole new path and I loved it! I couldn't put it down, not even if I wanted to. The boy-dog relationship is heart melting and war is surely no place for sentimentalisms.

My vote: 9/10

Related movie:
War Horse (2011) by Steven Spielberg

Photo credits: goodreads.com

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