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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Dogs Don't Talk is a young adult coming of age story written by Nancy May. Benjamin is a junior in high school who's recently moved to Adele, Virginia, with his family. They've moved several times before because of his father's job, but Benjamin's hoping this one will be the last for a while. He still texts with his friends from New Jersey, but hasn't really made any friends in Adele. Benjamin's an accomplished wrestler, and he and his father are hoping he'll be offered a scholarship to a good college. Benjamin's older brother, Johnny, is autistic, something that makes Benjamin feel different from other kids in the school. This year, Johnny's classes are in the same wing of the school where Benjamin's pre-calculus class is held, and everyone hears Johnny singing in the corridors. Some people make fun of him, but sometimes Ben's teacher actually sings along.
Nancy May's coming of age story, Dogs Don't Talk, is fun and quirky. Benjamin's mother has a special and slightly peculiar relationship with Rosie, the family dog, and it sets the tone for a somewhat different kind of coming of age story, one that works on a number of levels. There's so much to this story and its other hero, Johnny, whose autism has such a profound impact on the family's lives, and whose music had me singing along as well. I found myself identifying with both Ben's reluctance to tell his classmates that Johnny is his brother and Ben's fierce desire to stand up for him. Being different and standing up for what's right is not always easy when you're a kid. Dogs Don't Talk is a marvelous young adult novel and is highly recommended.