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by Joseph Monninger
Wally had become just another piece of junk that littered Danny’s yard until Clair took notice of the old dog and her life began to change in more ways than she could have imagined. As Clair and Danny begin to train Wally with the help of a book written by Father Jasper, Clair learns a lot about people too.
Whippoorwill explores the idea that everyone needs someone in their pack. When Clair gets a glimpse of Danny’s home life, she realizes that people as well as dogs need love and guidance. Still, Clair struggles with her feelings towards Danny. She is at times flattered by his attention, but uneasy with the fact that Danny is needy.
When Danny asks Clair to spend the day with him, she looks forward to the adventure. However, when the day ends with a police chase and Danny ends up in jail, Clair realizes that sometimes you can’t fix other people’s problems.
Dog lovers will enjoy reading Whippoorwill. Most of the action in the story takes place with Wally, a neglected dog who, with some training, turns into a wonderful dog. Clair leans much about caring for dogs—and people—throughout the story.
One of the best parts of this book is the relationship between Clair and her father. Although their life is far from perfect, they accept each other how they are. Because the story is told from Clair’s point of view, the reader gets to see her thought process and her confusion about how to navigate her first boy/girl relationship. Even though Clair is not a particularly remarkable character, dog lovers will like following Clair’s journey as she learns about Wally and about life.
- Clair’s father tries to explain teenage boys to her. He compares boys to wild ponies. “Not ponies, maybe, but something wild and just bent on . . . procreation. On moving their gene pool further into the future . . . What I mean is, girls sometimes think about love, or friendship, while guys. . .”
- Clair kisses Danny several times. After he kisses her the first time, she thinks, “I did feel good, or curious about what was going on, and I kind of liked kissing Danny. His lips had been thin and even, not wet or sloppy at all, and his shoulders had been good when I put my hands on them.”
- In one scene Danny pulls Clair onto his lap and kisses her. “It felt clumsy and awkward, and I wanted to get up and get away from him, but his arms went around me and then something melted in me and I gave in a little . . . His tongue flicked into my mouth and I wasn’t sure if that was something I wanted or understood, but then it started to feel natural and exciting and real.”
- When Danny kisses Clair, “up against the wall of the bowling alley,” she begins to analyze it. “So this is what it means to kiss a boy, and this is how they do it, and this is where his arms go, and this is how he breathes through his nose.”
- Clair’s friend tells her a story of a girl, “whose boyfriend broke up by sending a picture of himself in bed with another girl.”
- Clair’s friend likes a guy and wonders if the guy is over his old girlfriend and, “if they had had sex.”
- When police officers begin following Danny’s car, Danny begins speeding. When Clair gets scared, Danny stops the car, jumps out, and begins running. Some police officers chase Danny down and pin him to the ground, while another officer yells at Clair to, “get out of the car.” Clair didn’t know what was going on, and she didn’t realize the cop was yelling at her, “and that a cop I had never met had a gun pointed at me and he seemed ready to use it . . . He knelt in the center of my back. Hard. He deliberately put his full weight on me, and I felt my face go into the dirt.”
- The book implies that Danny’s father abused Danny and his mother.
- Danny was arrested because he, “crashed a car battery into his father’s head . . . It looked like a heck of a fight, but I’m guessing most of that was the father’s blood. From the looks of it, the father didn’t manage to bruise Danny much.”
- Danny described the fight between him and his dad. “He came up to my room and he grabbed me by the ear. I was in bed and half asleep and he kind of lifted me out of bed by the ear. . .he’d been drinking. . .He kept flicking spoonfuls of hot water at me, so I tried to go past, to go to bed, and he grabbed me by the ear again and I swing at him.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Clair’s father’s friend drinks a Budweiser and at dinner, Clair’s father drinks a beer.
- When Danny’s phone keeps ringing, Clair asks him, “What are you, a drug pusher?”
- Clair’s neighbor, “pumped the bird at me.”
- When Clair asks her neighbor if she could walk his dog, he replied, “You can take the effing dog.”
- One of the characters calls his dad a “jackass.”