Title: A Place to Call Home | Author: G.A. Whitmore | Publication Date: February 19, 2014 | Publisher: Outskirts Press | Pages: 293 | Recommended Ages: 10+ | Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Summary: Every rescue dog deserves A Place to Call Home . . .
Every rescue dog has a tale to tell, a story uniquely their own. A Place to Call Home is Toby’s tale. His story takes you on a journey across the country from California to Connecticut and across the spectrum of life’s emotional and spiritual experience.
Born on a small farm in northern California, Toby narrowly escapes the death sentence imposed upon him by his breeder. Through a series of events driven by good intentions, he finds himself in a Connecticut suburb where life with his new family soon collapses on him, and his newfound happiness is brutally destroyed.
On his quest to find a place to call home, Toby encounters and endures the best and worst of humanity as he comes face to face with sorrow and joy, fear and courage, and ultimately, with the power of love.
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My Thoughts: A few years ago, my sister adopted a dog rescued from a “puppy mill” in the United States (part terrier, part border collie, and part “other”) named Zara. While she is the sweetest, most gentle dog you have ever met, there is no mistaking the fear hiding behind her eyes. For those of you who are dog lovers, you know what I mean. That haunted look in the eyes of dogs who have suffered terrible abuse at the hands of their owners. A Place to Call Home is based on the true story of Toby, a pure white German Shepherd (considered “undesirable” by breeders), who begins his journey as a puppy born on a breeder’s farm. The story follows Toby as he journeys across the United States searching for his “forever home”.
In a style reminiscent of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty (one of my favorite books from childhood), the reader is taken for an emotional roller coaster of a ride as we share glimpses of Toby’s happiness when he is with his beloved mother and siblings only to have everything turn upside down when the breeder calls for his (and his sister’s) execution – because of their unusual and undesirable white fur. But a kind farm hand (and the breeder’s wife) cannot bear to end the puppies’ lives and plot to take them secretly to a nearby shelter. Unforeseen circumstances result in the puppies being abandoned by a dumpster where they are kindly taken in by a couple. And so continues the story, as Toby jumps from home to home until he is lovingly taken in by a woman (one can assume this is the author!) and her son where he lives out his days in a loving home.
Ms. Whitmore has woven a poignant, drama-filled tale which has moments that will make you smile, some that will make you cry, and others that will leave you wanting to go out IMMEDIATELY and adopt a rescued dog from your local shelter. I can say in all honesty that even though my sister has a rescued dog, I am looking at ALL dogs differently now. Ms. Whitmore has effectively written a story from the perspective of an abused dog and has succeeded in drawing awareness to the plight of animals who have suffered severe abuse. Balanced with the descriptions of how people can be cruel to animals is the portrayal of people who are kind-hearted and generous with animals. I think this is why the book is so effective in drawing out an emotional reaction to the story.
I do have to mention one thing about the story that should be taken into consideration. The book switches perspectives between Toby (the dog) and some of the human characters. Make no mistake, the story does contain violence toward animals and I don’t take issue with this. The descriptions of violence and its consequences are necessary to tell the story and to ultimately have a strong take-away message for individuals who read the book. That being said, there were some more “adult themes” – specifically alcoholism and related issues – touched upon in the book. I found that the story delving into the relationship between Ray (the abuser) and Lisa (especially from their perspective) a bit “advanced”. I know that different families have different comfort levels discussing these types of themes so I just want to mention it so that a reader can make an informed decision around age-appropriateness. Don’t get me wrong – it is a GREAT story regardless!
My Bottom Line: Based on a true story, A Place to Call Home is a moving tale featuring multiple perspectives of individuals and animals all centered around the main character, Toby – a pure white German Shepherd puppy – who experiences many highs and lows on his quest to find his “forever home”. Ms. Whitmore has written a story from the heart, beautifully. I was genuinely moved by Toby’s Tale and found myself emotionally invested in the story throughout. I believe the book will be enjoyed by children ages 10 years and older and I recommend this book to all animal lovers; but dog lovers, in particular, of course!
* This book was provided to me by the author free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. The author is participating in our Book Promotion Services. *
Buzz About the Book
“The many twists in Toby’s story gripped my heart and caused me to shed more than a few tears, but also kept me filled with hope that he would eventually find his forever home. In a great read for young and old alike, Ms. Whitmore takes readers on an emotional journey with A Place To Call Home: Toby’s Tale. Anyone who enjoys reading animal rescue stories will find this a must-read, but really there is much more to this story than that. Truly a story that grabs the heart and won’t let go! ~ Brenda Casto, Readers’ Favorite
“A Place to Call Home: Toby’s Tale had me rooting so hard for Toby! I believe the young minds who meet him will also be drawn in and read through the story quickly, hoping to rejoice with Toby soon. I have mentioned this is the first of The Rescue Dog Tales series, and am hoping to meet more characters like Toby and hear more heartwarming tales.” ~ 5 Star Review, Maria C. Cuadro, Amazon
“This is very much a family book; the sort of book you could read to you 10 year old at bedtime. It is often very sad but I think any child and parent reading it will be rewarded when they get to the satisfying ending… A compelling and inspiring story. Highly recommended.” ~ 5 Star Review, The Wishing Shelf Book Awards
“I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down, but I must warn you to have tissues at the ready… G.A. Whitmore knows how to spin a yarn. Her prose is excellent, her plot expansive and full of sudden turns. It kept me on the edge of my seat. If you love animals, a gripping plot, great characterization, and a wonderful story, this book is for you…” ~ 5 Star Review, Saved, Amazon
“This is such a wonderful book, that truly touches your heart. I have read many dog books, and this tale is by far one of my favorites.” ~ 5 Star Review, Annie, Amazon
About the Author: G.A. Whitmore
Ms. Whitmore’s passion for writing and her love of dogs come together in her series The Rescue Dog Tales. The first book in the series, A Place to Call Home, is based on the true story of Toby, an abused dog she adopted from the Connecticut Humane Society. Ms. Whitmore currently lives in Connecticut with her rescue dog Kadee.