Cover image for A home for goddesses and dogs
A home for goddesses and dogs
1st ed.
Physical Description:
385 pages ; 22 cm.
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Lydia knows more about death than most thirteen-year-olds. Her mother was already sick when her father left them six years ago. Then when her mother died, it was Lydia who sat by her side. Fully orphaned now, Lydia follows the plan her mother made with her. She uproots to rural Connecticut to live with her ?last of kin.? Aunt Brat; her jovial wife, Eileen; and their ancient live-in landlord, Elloroy, welcome Lydia. Only days after her arrival the women adopt a big yellow dog.


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A unique masterpiece about loss, love, and the world's best bad dog, from award winner Leslie Connor, author of the National Book Award finalist The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle.

This novel sings about loss and love and finding joy in new friendships and a loving family, along with the world's best bad dog. An uplifting middle grade novel about recovery featuring strong female characters, an adorable dog, and the girl who comes to love him.

It's a life-altering New Year for thirteen-year-old Lydia when she uproots to a Connecticut farm to live with her aunt following her mother's death.

Aunt Brat and her jovial wife, Eileen, and their ancient live-in landlord, Elloroy, are welcoming--and a little quirky. Lydia's struggle for a sense of belonging in her new family is highlighted when the women adopt a big yellow dog just days after the girl's arrival.

Wasn't one rescue enough?

Lydia is not a dog person--and this one is trouble! He is mistrustful and slinky. He pees in the house, escapes into the woods, and barks at things unseen. His new owners begin to guess about his unknown past.

Meanwhile, Lydia doesn't want to be difficult--and she does not mean to keep secrets--but there are things she's not telling...

Like why the box of "paper stuff" she keeps under her bed is so important...

And why that hole in the wall behind a poster in her room is getting bigger...

And why something she took from the big yellow dog just might be the key to unraveling his mysterious past--but at what cost?

* Junior Library Guild Selection *

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5--8--Thirteen-year-old Lydia has experienced more than her fair share of heartache in her young life; her father left the family six years earlier, leaving Lydia with her mother who was dying of a weakened heart. Lydia's mother homeschooled her so they could treasure their remaining time together, which they did until her death. Now Lydia is uprooted to rural Chelmsford, CT, to live with her mother's sister Bratches (Brat), Brat's wife Eileen, and the 90-something landlord of the farm house, Elloroy. The one familiar thing Lydia has brought with her is a box of goddesses--which are collages she and her mother made from old photographs and ephemera from flea markets. The same week Lydia arrives, Brat and Eileen take in a big yellow rescue dog, whom they name Guffer. It seems Guffer is more trouble than he's worth--he urinates in the house, runs away into the woods, and is scared of everything. Lydia, who is not a dog person, tries to help, but wonders if her new family has an affinity for damaged rescues like herself and the dog. Lydia joins the small 8th-grade class (12 students) at the local school, and despite her initial unwillingness to open her heart, she finds new friends in Sari and Raya. The girls show Lydia how to snowshoe and teach her all about the local farming community. Lydia has secrets that she isn't yet willing to share with her new friends or family, including her goddesses, the unopened cards from her absent father, ailing pygmy goats, and a first crush. Beautifully woven story lines and characters mesh together as Lydia, Guffer, the goats, and her family all start to heal from the inside out. VERDICT Connor (Waiting for Normal, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle) has an innate ability to broach difficult subjects with gentleness, and the myriad strong female characters will be embraced by readers seeking heroines to cheer for.--Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA

Publisher's Weekly Review

After her single mother's protracted illness and death, 13-year-old narrator Lydia moves to a rural Connecticut town to live with her matter-of-fact aunt Brat, her buoyant wife Eileen, their greyhound, and their elderly landlord, Elloroy. Soon after she arrives, they adopt a rambunctious rescue dog, Guffer, but Lydia isn't a dog person, and it takes time for her to warm to him. Formerly homeschooled by her mother, she must also adapt to the tiny school, where she eventually forms close friendships. Secrets prove a strong thread, including Lydia's missing dad and the rehabilitation of two maimed pygmy goats. Lydia has her own secret, too: she initially conceals paper collages of goddesses (e.g., the Goddess of Gratitude, the Goddess of the Third Heart) that Lydia and her mother created from salvaged objects to "cope and to keep hope" as her mother's heart grew weaker. When she shares these creations with both family and new friends after a mishap, their reaction to her revelation intensifies their bonds. Though the narrative's leisurely pace fits within the slow, tight-knit community, it can meander. What stands out is the narrative's essential kindness, as Lydia heals and rediscovers the meaning of home and family. Ages 10--up. (Feb.)

Kirkus Review

After her mother succumbs to heart disease, 13-year-old Lydia goes to live with her mother's older sister, Aunt Brat, and her wife, Eileen, in their small Connecticut town.Almost immediately the loving couple adopts a large rescue dog that becomes mostly Lydia's responsibility. The unfortunate animal isn't even housebroken, and Lydia's most decidedly not a dog person, so caring for Guffer is challenging. So is trying to be cordialbut not too friendlywith her 12 eighth grade classmates. Previously home-schooled, Lydia's not quite ready for the friend thing. Secrets, like who could have been responsible for maiming two baby goats or why Brat is secretly caring for them at a neighbor's farm, complicate life. Background plotlines (an angry neighbor who hates Guffer, Lydia's absent father, and the cause of Guffer's anxieties) all gradually evolve. Similarly, Lydia slowly learns to cope with her grief, sometimes aided by spending time with "the goddesses"artistic collages of strong women that she and her mother crafted. Gentle, fully fleshed characters (most seemingly white) are lovingly drawn in this long tale of healing, but the pacing is sometimes frustratingly slow. Although she's clearly intelligent, Lydia's first-person narrative often seems more like the voice of an adult than a young teen. In spite of these minor flaws, her poignant tale is engaging and uplifting.An almost-orphan and a rescue dog share lots of heart in a winsome coming-of-age story. (Fiction.10-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

A dreamy, introspective story from the award-winning author of The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (2018), A Home for Goddesses and Dogs explores grief and family through the relatable lens of a 13-year-old girl left bereft by the untimely death of her beloved artist mother. Newly orphaned Lydia is swept to her new home, a rural farm in Connecticut, by an aunt she never knew into a family she could not realize she needed. Lydia's journey through her grief and struggle to adapt to a new life without her mom is nicely paralleled in the travails of the seemingly untrainable adopted rescue dog also recently added to the household, and the apt comparisons are sure to spark plenty of discussion in youth book clubs and reading groups. The emotional depth and sensitivity of the characters feels authentic, while Connor's sharp descriptions bring a winter pastoral wonderland into sharp focus. Recommended for children's collections where realistic fiction is in demand.