Dogs Don't Talk

Young Adult - Action
222 Pages
Reviewed on 02/26/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Nancy May grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. After gradating with from the University of South Carolina with a journalism degree, she moved to New York City and worked in publishing. She is currently a freelance writer and lives with her family in Virginia.
She is currently working on the sequel to Dogs Don't Talk. Besides young adult fiction she likes to read historical fiction, mysteries, anything with a good story!

    Book Review

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.

Jane Finch

Dogs Don’t Talk by Nancy May is the story of a young lad called Benjamin who starts to look at life differently at the grand age of sixteen. At home, everything seems to be his fault, even when the dog poops on his bedroom carpet, and where the other members of the family appear to get far more attention from his mother than he does. Even at school life is a struggle. Benjamin becomes worn down by taunting and bullying, and feels he will never have a normal life. He takes comfort in his reading where he can become lost in the world of books. When he meets Emily, who shares his love of books, life takes a different turn.

The author, Nancy May, has created a story that not only deals with coming of age issues, but addresses aspects of self-confidence, dealing with bullying, and not being afraid to be yourself. The book shows that it isn’t necessary to conform to social expectations and that you adapt your life to your own strengths and abilities. Although the core of this book has a serious nature, there is humour with the mother’s attitude to the dog and the particular traits of other members of the family. When Benjamin finally meets Emily, she becomes not only his confidante but also his soul mate and helps him face up to his adversaries and those that try to destroy his way of life. The writing is smooth and flows well and the characters are believable; Benjamin in particular comes across as a normal, likeable boy whom any reader will empathise with. Benjamin takes the reader on a life journey that sees him overwhelmed by obstacles, but travels with him to be an overcomer and to see everything, including his family, in a new light.

Jackie Timmons

I was sucked in on the very first page of Nancy May's Dogs Don't Talk. In fact, the very first line made me laugh: "I think my mother likes the dog better than me, even though I've never pooped on her Oriental carpet." Sixteen-year-old Benjamin McDowell, the story's narrator, has a sarcastic, hilarious, adolescent point of view. Dogs Don't Talk tells the story of Benjamin's junior year of high school. Ben's family consists of his work-and-sports-driven father, his stay-at-home mother, his younger dancer sister, Elizabeth, his older autistic brother, Johnny, and their 70-pound brown shepherd mutt, Rosie, whose thoughts are often voiced in a southern drawl by Ben's mom. Ben is an excellent student and on the school's wrestling team. But he can't seem to find anywhere to fit in. His family is mostly consumed with helping Johnny and he only feels nagged and unnoticed at home. At school, he doesn't have many friends and gets pushed around by the jerk on the wrestling team. What Ben wants more than anything is to find a girlfriend. A girlfriend who would make him feel good about himself and make his teammates jealous. But could any girl really love a big-headed nerd with an embarrassing brother?

Dogs Don't Talk was a really fun book to read. Nancy May created a very realistic story with very realistic characters. At times, reading Ben's thoughts made me cringe - the selfish ways he'd react to his brother's outbursts or the possessive feelings he had for his girlfriend - but it was all perfectly typical for a sixteen-year-old. Despite his faults, Ben meant well and was very likable. I truly felt for his mother, who was doing her best to hold things together, teach her children independence, and do everything she could to help Johnny. Her dog-talk was cute and Rosie's actions seemed to always illustrate that the words she was being given were spot on. At first, I wanted a little more from the ending, but then I decided it wouldn't make sense for such a realistic story to be perfectly wrapped up at the end. Overall, this is an easy read and an engaging, entertaining coming of age story!