Book Review: Waiting For Peter

I’m sorry I’ve written about nothing but books so far this week. I’ve been working on another post for some time now but just haven’t had the time and mindset to pull it together this week. I guess book reviews are easier posts, in a way, because I am dealing with definite subject matter, and while I’m sharing my thoughts, it’s different from wrestling through a subject and the Biblical implications and coming to a conclusion. And I just happened to finish several books lately. 🙂

I’m not normally drawn to animal stories. They’re often designed to be heartwarming – and my heart needs warming as much as anyone else’s – but I find myself perversely resistant to stories that I know upfront are going for that effect. Or they’re sad, sometimes while simultaneously being heartwarming. One son shared a quote with me something to the effect that getting a dog is an investment in a small tragedy. Because they live a much shorter time than humans, generally, we’re going to have to deal with their deaths.

Waiting For PeterSo I don’t think I would normally have picked up the novella Waiting for Peter except that I really like Elizabeth Musser. This is a short book: only 90 pages. And it’s heartwarming and sad. But it’s good.

The story is about a boy named Peter who was in an accident that took the life of his friend and left Peter with severe injuries. He survives with nothing worse than a limp physically, but his confidence is shattered. His whole world has been shaken up and nothing is the same. His parents decide to let him choose a dog to try to help him, and Peter finds one who seems a little sickly and neurotic, but responds to him.

Dog and boy grow up together. They have adventures and Peter learns to extend himself (talking to strangers when not naturally prone to, etc.). Mom has to deal with the messes, chewed up household items, etc., but likes how dog and boy are both developing. When she deals with her own midlife issues – physical changes, aloof daughter, emptying nest – the dog becomes her companion, too.

The back of the book says, in addition to the book being about “the healing power of love between a boy and his dog,” it is also an “allegory of how we should view our relationship with God, our Master.” Those parts were a little more…not didactic, exactly, but more direct, more like one would see in a devotional than in fiction. That’s not characteristic of Musser, but maybe because the book was so short, there wasn’t space to develop it like one would in a novel. Or maybe she meant it exactly like she wrote in order to make the points she made. I’m not criticizing it or saying it’s bad – it’s just different from how she usually writes.

The story is told alternately from the points of view of the mom, Lanie, and the dog…the latter of which could be a little tricky, but it was kind of fun reading Sunny’s “thoughts.”

There is not a forward or afterward, so I don’t know if the story is based on one from the author’s life (although on her author’s page she does mention having a neurotic dog).

Overall, though not my usual cup of tea, I enjoyed it.

(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books and Carole’s Books You Loved)



14 thoughts on “Book Review: Waiting For Peter

  1. This book really appeals to me. I see such wonderful relationships between dog and companion and my own Mandy has been such a good friend in hard times. I will have to look this one up. Thank you.

  2. You don’t have to apologize for the reviews — I love the work you do and hearing your opinions about characterization or Christian discussion. One feature that is much appreciated is when you add an excerpt or three of your favorite quotes. Gives me a sense of the flavor of the writing style.

  3. Isn’t it something how at times we pick up something that we wouldn’t normally read and it turns out to be a perfect fit? I’ve had books that have done that exact thing for me. I think with it being such a short book that it would be a good read and one I intend to put on my wish list. Thank you, Barbara, for your review…and please don’t ever feel as if you need to apologize for doing reviews…I love reading yours! 🙂

  4. Interesting book! I know how the bond between a human and a dog is so therapeutic. I am coming from personal experience myself. My dogs helped me when I had to relearn how to walk and relearn how to use my hands after a surgery gone wrong.

    I will need to look this book up and read it sometime it will go on my TBR!

    • Thank you for visiting! I usually visit back to a commentor’s blog, but the link to yours takes me to a page saying yours is protected. Sounds like you’ve had quite the experience. I went through some of that myself after a virus hit my spine several years ago – couldn’t walk on my own for months. Glad you had dogs to help you.

  5. Every once in a while I do enjoy a good book about a dog. The bond between human and animal can sometimes be so emotional, as I know from my own experience. Waiting For Peter sounds like a rather unique story, and I’d be interested in reading it sometime.

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  7. I usually don’t pick up stories with dogs in them simply because sometimes they start out tragically with the dog going through some kind of abuse before their life is turned around in some way. I just can’t handle that. This one sounds good though and I’m intrigued.

    • This one actually did have that element – I don’t think I even thought about that or remembered it when I reviewed it. It’s not detailed or graphic, but it is part of what draws Peter to the dog – the fact that it had been hurt.

  8. I’m not a great animal story lover generally but I did enjoy reading ‘My Friend Flicka’ earlier this year, probably because it combined aspects simialr to what you mentioned above & wasn’t trying to be sentimental.

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