Apologies for my delay! Let’s see, I had a gas pipe leak in my house, then I went on vacation and didn’t have much computer access, and now I’m back home and my laptop isn’t working. But, I’m here now. For this post, I will cover chapters 4 and 5. Next Sunday I will discuss 6 and 7.
I also have some good news… more on that, though, after the discussion!
As usual, this post will contain some light spoilers, so read at your own risk.
It’s so frustrating to witness Iris’ father be such a… jerk! In this chapter, he had a brief but meaningful interaction with Iris. It was her court day; she was awaiting punishment. Her father was supposed to be there with her to show support, and instead, he showed up after. Once again, his excuse was work. I actually have a weird reaction to her father in that I hate him for being so absent in her life, but I also find him oddly relatable because I turned into somewhat of a workaholic myself this past year. I can understand how someone can throw themselves into work to escape their life – and maybe that’s what’s going on here, considering Iris’ mom died not that long ago – but I don’t fully absolve him of his terrible parenting abilities. Anyway, the fact that her dad couldn’t leave a meeting to be with his daughter on an important day says a lot about him. I do hope at some point in the story he starts to change.
I was a bit worried for Iris during the scene at court. I think the scene was accurate in its detail and in how the judge interacted with Iris. One of the strengths in this book is in how the author knows exactly when to end a scene. Nothing has dragged and the pacing has been excellent.
Iris’ punishment is to do community service and meet with a therapist. Community service possibilities include dog rehabilitation, garbage pickup, and graffiti cleaning. When discussing the possibilities with her attorney, Iris doesn’t tell her lawyer about her fear of dogs, and requests garbage duty. Remember, Iris is terrified of dogs!
Unfortunately for her, her lawyer manages to get Iris a spot doing dog rehabilitation. I feel bad for her, but I’m also excited to see what’s gonna happen when she faces her fear!
Iris goes to her first day of dog rehabilitation. There she meets 4 other young people; one of them is a student from her school who she is vaguely familiar with, but never spoke to before. That student, Oak, seemed to be a bit of a jerk from an earlier interaction with him near the beginning of the book. But in this chapter, Oak seems to be an okay guy. He doesn’t fully reveal his face, which is strange but intriguing. I’m thinking something will develop (probably just a friendship, but we’ll see) between him and Iris.
The dog who Iris is paired up with is a disabled survivor of a dog fighting ring. I think the way Iris handled interacting with her dog, despite being terrified of them, was done well in this chapter. Anything less would have made her fear feel unconvincing and anything more would have been over the top. I think it was realistic for her to resist taking the leash at first, and then kicking up her feet when the dog, Roman, approached her. I like that Iris goes into this with a preconceived notion of how pit bulls are. I would hope that as Iris interacts with Roman, he will change her opinion on pit bulls. In turn, this will help readers who also have prejudices against pit bull dogs.
Iris still plainly has a lot of anger issues, and anger was certainly on display in this scene, but she also managed to work through some of her emotions. I’m looking forward to seeing Iris develop a friendship with not just her dog, but also Oak and another young adult in the program named Talbot.
The author of Strays, Jennifer Caloyeras, has kindly offered to give away one copy of the book. I will be setting up a Rafflecopter in the coming week and posting it here. I’m so excited and hope you are too!
That’s it for now. Next week will be Chapters 6 and 7!
Please comment below or reach out to me on Twitter to let me know if you are reading along or if you have any thoughts on this post! I would love more interaction with my readers!
Strays: A Novel can be purchased directly through Ashland Creek Press.
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