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Reviewed by Tracy Slowiak for Readers' Favorite
What a delightful read! That was my first thought after finishing Almost Perfect, the newest novel by author Diane Daniels Manning. This is the story of fourteen-year-old Benny Neuser, a young man who lives with a mild form of autism, as he struggles to impress his aloof mother, and Bess Rutledge, a seventy-year-old woman set to retire from her successful career of raising and showing Standard Poodles. Their lives intersect as Benny becomes convinced that the best way he can make his mother take notice of him would be to show an award winning dog at the prestigious Westminster dog show, and Bess can’t quite put away her secret dream of winning Westminster, something she’s hoped for all her life. But convincing Bess to allow him to show one of her two remaining poodles in the “Big Show,” when she’s turned down the opportunity her whole life, and even with the most gifted dog handlers, will take a whole set of skills that Benny’s not sure he’s got.
I loved this book and its cover. Loved it. It warmed my heart, it made me laugh, it made me cry. Author Diane Daniels Manning clearly knows the world of dog shows as well as the world of children living with developmental disabilities, and this comes through in her wonderful book. The characters of Bess and Benny leap off the page, and I found myself truly caring about and rooting for each of them. Almost Perfect is a book that would appeal to anyone who loves fiction, a heartwarming story, or just a great read. I certainly hope that Diane Daniels Manning is hard at work on her next book because I, for one, will be lined up to read it when it’s released!