Friday, January 2, 2015

The Dog Boy Review

The Dog Boy 

By Noel Anenberg

“Anenberg beautifully and convincingly portrays the contradictions of American society during the period, and he ably juxtaposes Eaton's mission to save her son with stories of the past--showing a world which, despite many technological advances, has made few discernible social advances…. 

…In this historical novel set shortly after World War II, an African-American woman seeks to save her injured son amid racial tension and strife. 
Phosie Mae Eaton leaves her home in Galveston, Texas, to visit her son, Will, a wounded U.S. Marine fresh from combat on Iwo Jima, now in a Los Angeles military hospital. Even as a Southern black woman familiar with the evils of segregated society, Eaton is stunned to discover that racial rules and regulations extend to war heroes. She finds that they are kept in a separate house from the white soldiers, banned from receiving whites' blood transfusions and aren't allowed basic amenities, such as coffee, from the Red Cross. She finds Will balancing precariously between life and death, as the gunshot wound in his stomach has festered and become infected. Doctors usually treat such infections with an easy injection of penicillin, but the hospital has no 'colored' needles due to their treatment of venereal-disease cases (which have skyrocketed due to postwar celebrations). Eaton strives to help her son in any way possible and, in order to stay in California, takes a job as a maid for a wealthy and eccentric Jewish family." 

When Phosie Eaton received the letter stating her son, Will, had been wounded in action, and was in a California hospital, she rushed there to see him. Once there, she was appalled to find out the substandard treatment he was being given, with him being of color. Phosie finds a job where she can live and clean the household. As dysfunctional as the household is, what with the lady of the house screaming and bringing home drunks, the next-door-neighbor-brother is shell-shocked and a bit creepy, and the small son acts like a dog and bites, this is her only choice if she wants to stay near Will. With every day, a new challenge comes along. Phosie begins to wonder if she will survive this wild family long enough to get Will the help he needs.

This story’s plot takes place during a seven-month period but feels like so much longer. Phosie was so well developed and likeable, as were several other characters. I could feel all her despair and my heart went out to her. The author did an amazing job of depicting that time period accurately. I loved the way this story kept me laughing all the way through.

My review can also be found at:

**The above opinions are 100% my own, whether I purchased the book or it was given to me to review.

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About the Author

Noel Anenberg
"When did I become a writer?" There was no one date. I stammered when a boy. Stammered out of fear for a brutish explosive father and a desperate hysterical mother whose moods both changed at the speed of thought. I was constantly afraid I would say the wrong thing. Words did not come. Writing and reading with comprehension were beyond reach. I first read and understood a novel when on river patrol in the Mekong Delta during the Viet Nam War, Herman Wouk's "Winds of War." Wouk's Navy commander, Victor "Pug" Henry became my first literary hero. Through great novels and plays I came to know and feel close to heroic fictional characters before I developed the capacity to trust real people. 

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