Friday, September 7, 2012

Wallace ~ Jim Gorant (arc) review

the second of my Dog Days reviews for today!

Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls--One Flying Disc at a Time
August 28, 2012
256 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

Even living in the shelter, Wallace was seen by many as just a dangerous pit bull. With more than enough energy and exuberance, it almost always came out in the wrong ways - and living in a confined space with other, excited dogs all around, wasn't the best environment for him, either.

But Andrew "Roo" Yori, a scientist and volunteer at the shelter knew there was something special there.

When he got word one his honeymoon that Wallace would be euthanized, he and his wife (also a shelter volunteer) worked to keep him alive until they could get home and adopt Wallace. Even with two dogs their own already, Clara and Roo knew they had to save Wallace.

Saving Wallace - while a feat in and of itself, for sure - was not the end of things for the Yoris. Wallace was far from perfect and required work . . . lots of it.

Roo knew that Wallace needed an outlet for his energy and he founded it in a most unusual place for a pit bull: the disc dog world. To Wallace it didn't matter that pit bulls aren't supposed to be good at competitive Frisbee. And it didn't mater to Roo, either.

Jim Gorant Wallace's author previously wrote The Lost Dogs about the dogs rescued from Michael Vick's dog operation.  He's also written for magazines like Sports Illustrated and GQ. In Wallace he does a fantastic job introducing us to the main characters of the tale in alternating chapters. It doesn't matter that one of those characters is a dog, we get his back story as well as it is just as important - if not more so - to the latter parts of the book.

Despite the Yoris being introduced to Wallace in the shelter, the dog's early life, from puppyhood until reaching that location has been uncovered. While it may not all have been a treat for Wallace, it's definitely one for readers. It's great to know his background, to understand his behavior more - and it creates more of a connection and more feelings for Wallace than if we'd only been introduced to this overly rambunctious, super exuberant pit bull with horrible manners in the beginning.

Gorant is able to make the introduction to the characters read like fiction. They style in which he tells their story both gives us enough details, but also creates a connection and reads very easily.

The progression of the story seemed to focus on all of the right points. It read very easily - and quickly. The chapters ended on the right points, leaving things hanging where they needed and resolving what needed resolving.

In finding a balance of telling the story of Roo and Wallace, Wallace's progression, Roo and Clara, the Yoris and dogs, and pit bulls in general Wallace seemed to succeed. There were a few times when things about the sport were mentioned but not explained and I didn't know what they were. It's possible, however, that explaining them would have gotten tedious or long - or just taken away from the point of that section and leaving the bit of wondering was better than the alternative.

Aside from that small negative, I greatly enjoyed this story and the balance it achieved. It wasn't just about a dog or about a pit bull or about a rescue dog, it really was about Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls--One Flying Disc at a Time and the people impacted along the way.

Rating: 9/10

advance copy received from the publisher

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