My thanks to NetGalley and Beltor for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.The biggest positive of this book is also my biggest negative The author can write a teen with special needs very well Unfortunately, Benny was way too annoying for me to be able to enjoy the book at all I stopped at 45%, because things had moved so slowly by that point that I just didn t care how the characters all got to the obvious end of the book Not a bad book, just not a good book for me If you like sweet stories and can handle annoying teens with issues who act like they are eight, then this is the book for you. I received this book as a free ebook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review In the spirit of full disclosure I picked this book solely based on the fact that it had a picture of a really cute puppy on the cover The puppy s name is Breaker and he turns out to be, no surprise, an integral part of this story.As a young woman Bess Rutledge established Umpawaug Kennels to breed show winning Poodles, now at 70 years old she feels its time to close the doors She just has to get through one litter of puppies sired by her championship winning poodle, McCreery This will be the last litter for them both after which they will simply be companions in retirement Bess is hoping to use the time to mend fences with her twin sister Mona and reestablish a relationship with her son David both having been neglected in favor of her dogs Benny Neusner is a troubled young man He attends a special school and has regular meetings with Dr Kate to hopefully help him get over his anger issues issues quite probably caused by his parents divorcing, his father remarrying and his mother s apparent lack of interest.The one thing Benny wants than anything in the world is a dog.On a snowy evening, as Benny wanders through Bess property on his way home having been disappointed once again by his mother, fate brings McCreery and Benny together It s love at first sight for both of them It s also the beginning of a sometimes touching and occasionally mutually manipulative relationship between Benny and Bess This book is filled with characters that have personal flaws, problems with trust, relationship issues and personal agendas I had a difficult time enjoying Almost Perfect as I started reading because it didn t seem like there was a likeable one in the bunch Even the dog had an agenda I know Benny was a tweenager with problems but that didn t stop me from disliking every word that came out of his mouth and every action he took I found his character annoying and admittedly, though it took a couple of chapters, I did get over all that Ms Manning has woven an intricate tale of how a group of people, each with their own flaws, can gather strength from each other learn to trust again, heal their hearts and even achieve some dreams given up long ago with the help of a couple of really cute and determined dogs.I liked this book The story was sweet It contains some important lessons about family, trust and understanding I learned a lot about the world of dog shows and show dogs as well That was not only an integral but also a very interesting element in this book Although McCreery and Breaker do tend to take center stage in this book because they have strong dog personalities , they neither talk nor do anything even remotely un dog like.As advertised on the cover this book that will definitely appeal to a wide audience of readers I would consider it G rated it is most certainly an quick, enjoyable read for adults yet you could feel quite comfortable reading it aloud to children ready for chapter books or gift it to your maiden aunt who enjoys cozy reads.It s an all around charming story. When I read the book summary about this book I thought it would be good However I did not expect it to be this good I am so glad this book is one to be read Share it with your friends and especially dog lover friends They will enjoy this book and thank you for introducing them to it.Bess and Benny are both wounded souls that found the true meaning of love and friendship Although the rest of the characters in this story were just as good like Bess s sister and her son In fact, no one seemed like a character but friends that I would want to have and get to know You have to have patience, an open heart, not afraid to stand up and not have others tell you No , and of course the right dog does not hurt either Which speaking of dogs, McCreery and Breaker were just as great as Bess and Benny They both are stars as well I can not pick a favorite Ok, I lied I did have a favorite and it was McCreery and Breaker They both brought something different to the story McCreery for his knowledge and patience Breaker for his joyous attitude and willingness to learn You can teach an old dog new tricks Overall, I had such an enjoyable time reading this book and would recommend it to others It is a quick read and one that you will cherish for a long time afterwards Please note Raising puppies are a lot of hard work so please don t get one unless you are ready to fully commit 100%. I was immediately completely sold when I read this paragraph in the first chapterHis dad wouldn t let him have a dog period but especially not a poodle His dad said poodles were sissy dogs, and his dad was right He had a book with pictures of every kind of dog in the world and had already picked out his favorite a brown and white beagle like Snoopy He wouldn t mind a collie like Lassie eitherAt this point I knew that me and Benny would get along great in this story, since we are on the same page when it comes to dog breeds The story takes place in the 1990s I didn t quite catch on to the decade gap for a while Herein we find an aging woman snatching at a final chance to accomplish the unrealized dream of a lifetime A young boy growing up, broken dreams shattering around him, until he finds a calling A dog calling out for him.I enjoyed the storyline quite a bit However, in the author s writing style, I found a few dozen too many similes for my personal taste.Contains some allusions to adult content, although not detailed Also includes topics related to dog breeding.Minimum age to read 16 and up.Overall If you re interested in any of the related topics, such as poodles, dog shows, mentally challenged kids, complicated family relationships, and unique friendship bonds, you ll probably like this novel.COYER Read a book featuring an animal prominently in the story 4 There is no doubt that this book tells the tale of how dog shows are really like The author is quick to point out that the book is fictional in nature but as she has shown dogs too, she can write the book as if it was a true account.The character Bess is self absorbed and has shown dogs for years Throughout the book she is shown to love her champion dogs than she loved her own son Her son over the years tried to please his mother and only into adulthood does he finally succeed This story coincides with the character Benny who tries his best to please his own mother but never quite seems to live up to her standards or for that matter the standards of his father who wishes him to be a lawyer.Bess and Benny are an unlikely duo with a commonality Bess sees something in Benny but cannot quite put her finger on it, although, the reader knows Benny, in his child like wisdom sees through Bess s strong interior Their working together and Bess s patience with Benny is truly amazing However, his patience with her is even amazing as he learns that he must be patient with himself in order to gain what he wants the mostacceptance.Acceptance is what the truly underlying story is all about wrapped up in a very good dog tale All the characters, even the old dog, McCreery, seek this one issue throughout the entire book In the end, they all get what they want as the author twist the tale in this adorable book I enjoyed reading this book although in truth, I thought it could have been shorter and still have told the same story I did find that to be cumbersome at times.What I loved most about this story was the character of Benny It was no secret that Benny had problems and only later revealed that he was autistic However, his autism did not hold him back or make him look foolish In fact, I admired his tenacity to move forward and to learn how to cope even when it was most difficult for him I loved that this book put children who are autistic in a different light as can do kids as opposed to difficult kids It was proven with Bess s character and that of the character David, that with a little love and a bunch of patience, that if given the chance, children with special needs will thrive and surprise us all and we just might learn something about ourselves.This book gets 4 stars from me.Disclosure I received a copy of this book in exchange for my open and honest review The views expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours Naila Moon
To be accepted for who they are by those around them for a young, mildly autistic boy and a seventy year old woman becomes a wonderful tale of discovery and a journey of healing one s soul in the process in Diane Daniels Manning s Almost Perfect Benny is a disturbed young boy from a dysfunctional family He craves love from his divorced parents, a self absorbed mother and a father who is disappointed that HIS dreams for Benny will never come true Add to the mix, a step mother who is also ill prepared to deal with Benny s problems and the boy s heart wrenching life becomes the catalyst that puts him in the company of a beaten down old woman who finds little joy left in life as she prepares to close down her dreams and passion raising champion dogs.This unlikely duo form an unusual bond as Benny is awed by her dogs, even though he claims a poodle isn t really a dog Gruff Bess has a chance to live her final dream to go to the world s most prestigious dog show, but it all hinges on Benny, her old champion dog, McCreery and his last pup, a clone of himself Bess teaches Benny to care for and show dogs while Benny teaches Bess how her own self absorption hurt her now grown son, as she paid attention to her dogs than her child.Diane Daniels Manning tells her tale with a steady pace, never rushing, always filling each page with heart and gritty detail Benny and Bess story is not a happy romp through life, but a struggle to reach out and connect with others and feel that connection in return She details each scene with clarity, stressing the relationships of her characters, as opposed to using the dogs as her main focus, although the life she gave to these wonderful animals is that of a trusted friend and understanding ally for those who needed them most.Heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measures, a book to be enjoyed by all ages, this character driven plot is brilliantly done.I received a review copy from Beltor in exchange for my honest review.Publication Date January 29, 2014Publisher BeltorISBN 9780578136394Genre Adult Teen YA FictionPrint Length 342 pagesAvailable from This was such a cute sweet story I loved how Manning told a story of families coming to know one another on a deeper level amidst the nerves and chaos of dog shows I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that this novel didn t race to the conclusion, as well as the fact that the conclusion wasn t the one that I expected The well developed plot combined with Manning s eloquent narrative descriptions were a treat Manning takes THE dog show and sets it as the backdrop for a fun, funny, and at times tearful story about being yourself, no matter your age, and encouraging others to do the same The entire last hour of the audio version had me in tears They were good tears, but definitely tears none the less All may not have ended the way the characters had imagined it, but it was the perfect ending for this heartfelt tale Manning has definitely developed a very diverse cast for this novel Not only are the characters genuine, but the interconnectedness of their actions is the heart of this story She shows the complexities and intricacies of relationships, both dog human and human human in such a manner that it not only provides insight into the characters but also captures your heart Manning definitely had me wanting to start showing dogs, or to at least go to a dog show, by the end of the novel The world that she created was so alive, vibrant and inviting that I would have loved to join in This novel is the perfect fit for anyone who enjoys pets, people, or who is looking to read something about life and being yourself.Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review. *Pdf ☔ Almost Perfect ⇰ An Old Woman Who Has Given Up Hope And A Boy Who Believes The Impossible Wonder If Life Would Be Perfect At The Westminster Dog ShowSeventy Year Old Bess Rutledge Has Dreamed Of Winning The Westminster Dog Show All Her Life Despite Her Decades Long Career As One Of America S Top Standard Poodle Breeders, She Has Decided She S Too Old To Hold On To Her Foolish Dream She Sells Off All The Dogs In Her Once Famous Kennel Except For The Aging Champion McCreery And His Mischievous, Handsome Son Breaker Part Of Her Senses They Might Have Been The Ones To Take Her To Westminster, If Only She D Dared To TryBess Meets Benny, A Teenager With Mild Autism Who Attends A Therapeutic Special School, And Learns He Has A Dream Of His Own To Impress His Self Absorbed Mother Benny Is Drawn Into The World Of Dog Shows And Becomes Convinced He Has Found The Perfect Way To Win His Mother S Attention If He Can Win Westminster With Either McCreery Or Breaker, He Just Knows She Will Finally Be Proud Of Him Getting Bess To Go Along With His Plan, However, Is Not Going To Be So Easy Up To % Of The Author S Profits Will Be Donated To Charities Serving Animals And Children Visit Dianedanielsmanning Review also found at received a copy of this book directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review Thank you This was a truly touching story Take an autistic boy, an elderly woman who has unfinished dreams and add in some dogs the result is a story about learning about yourself and your capabilities How Benny and Bess helped each other to change their current reality was magnificent The fact that this story centralizes around dogs touched upon a weakness of mine Although I am of the same opinion as Benny in the story and I don t consider poodles real dogs and would take my golden retriever any day, I do know about a humans love for a dog and vice versa This story captures that and McCreery s actions towards the end of the story was heartwarming I do also believe that dogs have the ability to heal and shed perspective on things all without being able to speak I loved this aspect of the story Ultimately this was a story about loss and loneliness and overcoming these by finding your own passions Its a story about going for your dream or just discovering what your dream is This was an easy read with an uplifting topic and will be sure to please most audiences It is clear that Manning has done some research on show dogs and has a passion for dogs herself I am glad I had the opportunity to discover this book. Thank you to the author for providing this book in exchange for an honest review This did not influence my review in any way. Almost Perfect is the heart warming story of a retired dog breeder named Bess, her mildly autistic teenage neighbour Benny and two beautiful Standard Poodles named McCreery and Breaker Bess Rutledge, seventy years old and proclaiming her days of dog breeding and showing are over, has one last litter of puppies by her also ageing champion dog McCreery He could have been the one to win the big Westminster Dog Show, but Bess never took him that far There is one puppy in the litter who looks just like his sire, and Bess is tempted to give dog showing one last shot before thinking better of it Enter her young neighbour, Benny, hoping for a dog of his own He thinks that if he can win dog shows with Breaker, McCreery s progeny, his mostly absent mother may finally take notice of him Two strong personalities are about to butt heads, and be forced to face their issues with family, dogs and missed chances.The premise and message of this book is really great I appreciate the light shed on special needs children and that they can accomplish things in life the same as other children, they might just take another way to get there This book promotes acceptance of people who are a little different to the outside world and I think that s fantastic It shows the work that a school like the New Hope School that Benny attends can do for children who need something different, and also the benefit of animals to children s development and learning Benny s progress through this novel is in leaps and bounds once he starts to bond with both McCreery and Breaker and develops an interest in something new As an Animal Science major and an all around animal lover I could have really loved this book However, it is the scientist in me that stopped that from happening completely That s not to say I didn t enjoy it, because I did, but I also had some issues with it not everyone will notice I am not a fan of anthropomorphizing animals, whether it be in fiction or everyday life, and frankly it makes me roll my eyes From growing up with animals and also from my studies I can appreciate that they too experience emotions and quite possibly a high level of consciousness, but the overuse of human emotions as labels for dogs just irks me There is a lot of that in this book, although this could also be attributed to how the characters perceive the dogs and their behaviour I also found it hard to believe that a seasoned and accomplished dog breeder such as Bess would allow her dogs to eat so much table scraps As well as the anthropomorphizing, I also found multiple grammar and sentence structure issues that I found hard to ignore, mainly because I feel they could have been picked up during a thorough read through by an editor There were also interactions with other characters such as Steffie, a friend of Benny s from the New Hope School, and events, such as the custody hearing, that could have been expanded upon but were rushed over, not given enough time or were told to the reader, as opposed to shown Benny and Steffie are all of a sudden best friends, but how did a friendship between two misfits such as themselves develop We only know they are best friends because Benny thinks it to himself, but I wouldn t have come to this conclusion from their interactions alone, and I think I should have been able to tell And from what we know about Benny, the custody hearing should have been a big deal, but it only got maybe a page of discussion If they were glossed over to avoid taking the light off the main story, did they even need to be included My gripes aside, at the heart of this novel it is an enjoyable and touching story about the taking chances, opening up your heart and also the power of a dog s love It will make a nice read for any dog lover.