Chasing Augustus by Kimberly Newton Fusco
Rosie has had a difficult year – her father suffered a stroke, they had to sell their house and she is now living in an apartment with her grandfather while her father remains hospitalized, and her cold-hearted and distant mother, who left Rosie when she was a baby, came back just long enough to give away Rosie’s beloved dog, Augustus. Rosie has spent the last year searching for Augustus on her bicycle, failing at school, and clashing with her prickly grandfather, who loves her but wasn’t prepared to be raising a 12-year-old on his own. When Rosie hears a rumor about a dog living with the local recluse, Swanson, the dog’s description reminds her of Augustus. Rose is determined to get to Swanson’s farm and see if Augustus is there. Enter Phillipe, a boy being fostered by Rosie’s neighbor, whom Rosie ropes into her schemes. Rosie isn’t very nice to Phillipe, who is hiding inside himself after being taken from an unfit mother, or her other neighbor, Cynthia, a chatterbox who gets on Rosie’s nerves. We see Rosie struggle with friendship, being too focused on herself and insensitive to the feelings of others. As she gets to know Phillipe, and then Swanson, she slowly begins to care for others and lose some of her selfishness. She learns about friendship, becoming more accepting of others, and being kinder and more patient. In addition to Rosie, we also see growth in Rosie’s grandfather, who relaxes somewhat and has a better relationship with Rosie, Phillipe, who comes out of his shell, and Swanson, who learns to trust. Rosie does find Augustus and is reunited with him thanks to the help of her new friends. Though Rosie’s relationship with Augustus is somewhat changed as a result of his experiences while he was away, it adds more depth to the story as it forces Rosie to mature, learning to share her love with others who also have need.