HarperCollins sent me an advance copy of Melissa Fay Green’s latest book, The Underdogs. It was a surprise because I hadn’t requested it. But what a wonderful treat!
I’ve read Ms. Greene’s Praying for Sheetrock and enjoyed it, as much as one can enjoy a book about racial bias in the modern south. Her latest book is just as captivating and thought-provoking.
The Underdogs, scheduled for release on May 17th, tells the stories of service dogs and the families they serve-two topics that resonate with me. If you’ve seen how labor-intensive, how stressful, and how isolating it can be for a family to care for a child with special needs, you know how desperate these families can be for a miracle to help them cope.
Ms. Greene touches on those who prey on that desperation by claiming to provide highly trained service animals at a reduced cost but do nothing of the sort. She profiles 4 Paws for Ability, an amazing program that trains service animals for children with autism, with epilepsy, with myriads of special needs. Did you know 4 Paws trains their dogs for 500 hours before providing them to families? They train dogs who alert adults when a child escapes from the home, dogs who alert when an autistic child is having a meltdown or when an epileptic child is about to have a seizure.
Ms. Greene makes it clear that service dogs are not saviors like Lassie. Change will not occur immediately. And in the meantime that $25,000 dog these overwhelmed families take on also requires care and attention. That having been said, over time these dogs can do some amazing things to help families. She then tells some of those families’ stories about how their service animal has made a profound difference in their child’s life.
I am a fan of Ms. Greene’s writing style. She makes nonfiction read like a novel. She captures your attention right away. And she keeps you interested, so when you have to put one of her books down, you look forward to when you can pick it up again.
I don’t often recommend a book to you, but I not only recommend but insist you read The Underdogs. You will thank me.