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#88…The Call of the Wild

December 19, 2009

“Thornton knelt down by Buck’s side. He took his head in his two hands and rested cheek on cheek. He did not playfully shake him, as was his wont, or murmur soft love curses, but he whispered in his ear, “As you love me, Buck. As you love me,” was what he whispered.”

I do not love animal stories, especially ones where animals get hurt or die. Old Yeller traumatized me for life, as did Turner and Hooch. Yes, I know animal death is all part of the great Circle of Life and everything (yes, I bawled through The Lion King as well) but when you get right down to it, animal stories are just something I avoid like the plague. Period. Marley and Me will never, ever be on my TBR list.

So as you might guess I was jumping for joy to read Jack London’s mini-epic The Call of the Wild. I spent most of the first 40 pages fighting back tears for Buck, a dog who is suddenly uprooted from a loving and happy home to hauling heavy sleds, barely getting enough food to make it through a day, sleeping wet and cold in the snow every night, and not to mention occasionally being attacked by humans or other dogs. Buck is able to dig deep to find the will to not only survive, but thrive in his new environment, and along the way does meet up with some very ethical and loving humans. Thank God.

Despite the animal angle, I found Call to be very well written. London is good at expressing the shock and denial any of us humans would experience in such a dramatic change in living conditions. Watching Survivor or Lost, you see people doing essentially the same thing Buck does…getting past social niceties and doing what they have to do to survive, no matter what else happens.

If animal stories are your thing (and I won’t tell you if Buck makes it or not) pick up The Call of the Wild.

Grade: B-

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